Bill Scott's blog

Thoughts on learning, sustainability and the link between them

Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Organic Garden Educator's Dilemma

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You are an organic garden educator working with teachers and young people in schools and communities in order to help them to ...

[i] develop a positive attitude towards getting involved in gardening including food growing;
[ii] acquire gardening skills that are of practical use, and
[ii] understand the imperative and benefits of doing all this organically.

So how do you react when, at the end of a programme, someone says:

"That was great.  I have learned so much; it was such a brilliant course – and great teaching. I've already started on my own garden plot at home with my family and we will be growing vegetables next season.  We're also looking for a local allotment.  I love it: fresh air, good food and a sense of achievement.  There's just one thing, I'm not really persuaded about this organic business."

Zero Carbon Britain – a treat in store

📥  News and Updates

In Portcullis House the other night at the launch of Canolfan Dechnoleg Amgen's second Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report.  Pretty gloomy stuff and nothing about education in the presentations.

Those speaking certainly seemed cheerful in looking forwards (backwards more like) to the day when there would be no economic growth and imports such as wine, olives and bananas would be out of reach luxuries for most of the population. Judging by the terribly 'House Pinor Noir' on offer, the sooner this happens the better.  The report is heavy weight with lots of info, but I can't see anyone voting for any of it no matter how "brilliant" the bright young thing from Greenpeace thought it.  And it may have been my imagination, but I did think a frisson of excitement ran round the room when someone mentioned the R word.  In the end, I did my own rationing, not finishing my one small glass of the fittingly-miserable wine – but I confess to having two of the endangered olives.


Half a Lifetime ago ...

📥  New Publications

Half a Lifetime ago I had my first paper published in School Science Review.  I was still a schoolteacher and it was a reflection on reflection (of sorts) on practice.  Some 35 years later, my second will shortly come out – more reflections: this time on science teaching and sustainability which draws on our work here with environmental science PGCE students.

The paper [ Science and the Sustainable Schools Initiative: opportunity and imperative ] explores the development of the sustainable schools initiative and examines the contribution that science teaching can make to this.  It draws on recent research in schools, and on development work in initial teacher education to argue that, in the absence of policy that enables schools to bring subject areas together, schools will have to take responsibility for this themselves and develop new ways of thinking about the focus and nature of science education given the scope this has for helping young people understand their world and what they can contribute to making it more sustainable.   It can be accessed at WS SSR 2010.


Update on Writing to the DfE

📥  News and Updates

UPDATE:  It took about 3 weeks to get a response – which is what they promise, more or less.  But all it said was that there was no news, yet.  Meanwhile, I've written again – at SEEd's behest –  this time through the government's call for ideas about what to emphasise (or not), and also as part of a South West Learning for Sustainability Coalition letter to Michael Gove that's been copied to every MP in the South West.   These both urge a continuation of the policies around education and sustainability, so ...

I could stand the silence no longer, so, I've written to the Department for Education asking about its policy on sustainable schools (if it has one):

The DCSF had an excellent and enviable record on the encouragement of schools (governors / leaders / teachers / students / others) to address sustainability through "curriculum, campus and community", and evidence exists in work that the University of Bath has recently done for the DCSF (and published on the Department's website) of the benefits to students of this.

Looking at the ministerial responsibilities (set out on the new DfE website), there is no mention of sustainable schools (or sustainable development / ESD / etc), and so my question is whether this is an oversight which will soon be corrected, or whether these are responsibilities subsumed within other emphases (if so, what) – or has this emphasis (and the policy strand that supports it) been abandoned by DfE?

Despite the last of these possibilities being so extraordinary as not really to be countenanced, I should appreciate clarification about what the policy now is, and where ministerial responsibilities lie.

A reply is promised within 15 days ...

Bath Plummets in Green League

📥  News and Updates

For the third year running, the University has dropped in the People & Planet Green league.  From a dizzy 57th= in 2009, we are now 77th=, just scraping a 2.2, sharing this fame with Cardiff, Leicester, Westminster and Sunderland.   Whilst we almost did as well as anyone (and much much better than most) in our carbon management plan, we were rubbish (as it were) at recycling our waste and almost as bad in carbon emissions per head.   Still, we're way ahead of the the University of Poppleton which didn't even make it into the league at all.


Sustainable Development – carved up in a different way

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In my recent visit to Sweden and the GRESD network (See Blog Postcard from Sweden) there was a presentation which threw new light on the issue of how one might think about SD without resorting to separating it out into separate and seemingly disconnected parts (and therefore nullify the point of doing this).  One of the presenters, Pernilla Andersson, drawing on work by the Swedish Ministry at the start of the ESD Decade, talked about this.  Rather than seeing sustainable development in terms of three components: environment / society / economy, she argued (something) like this:

The Environment – the limited (and ultimately limiting) framework within which development (whether sustainable or not) has to take place

Social development – the purpose of sustainable development

The economy – the means whereby development (whether sustainable or not) will be effected.

The advantage of this way of thinking about the issue is that the link with sustainable development is not lost even though the idea has been disaggregated – and it clearly links back to Brundtland and the World Conservation Strategy.  It also makes immediate sense.


Calculating the Cost of your Curry

📥  New Publications

A cautionary tale from today's SDRN Update:

A new carbon footprinting tool, developed by researchers at the University of Manchester, suggests that lamb curry ready-made meals eaten in the UK amount to an annual carbon footprint equivalent to 5,500 car trips around the world or 140 million car miles.  The estimates are based on the figure of 30% of adults in the UK who eat ready-made meals at least once a week.  Curry is one of the nation's favourites, accounting for up to 10% of ready-made sales - which have soared during the recession.  The academics found that the fast food meal generates the equivalent of 4.3 kg of carbon dioxide emissions per person.  The meal's ingredients are responsible for 65% of the carbon footprint, with lamb contributing half of the total. Meal manufacture contributes on average 14% and packaging 4% of the total carbon footprint.  The contribution of transport is small at 2%.  However, storage at the retailer contributes 16%.  The  CCaLC carbon footprinting tool can also be used for the estimation of carbon footprints of other products, including packaging, biofuels and various chemicals. For more (detail, not curry) go to the NERC website.