This text was sent to the EAUC's SHED-SHARE Maillist last week:
I have been engaged in the dialogues leading up to Rio+20 through the PrepComs and seen various texts which will be informing the policy positions and statements arising from the next Earth Summit. Many of us engaged with this global process, have concerns that the role of education in the transition towards a more sustainable future is not understood or reflected in these recent texts. Some dialogues are moving away from the Agenda 21 vision and UN DESD commitment to promote education as a means to learn our way out of unsustainable development and construct more sustainable futures. Instead, technical and specialist training approaches, particularly in the area of economics, technology and ICT, are being promoted through the theme of a Green Economy. There is little reference to learning based change or social or community learning approaches to sustainability to date. In my view, we need to secure opportunities for promoting education that assists us to address unsustainable practice and create alternative futures, as well as identify technical solutions to current problems. We are still in time to ask delegates to consider this important role of education.
This seems to be a significant issue, but it seems little wonder that ...
"... technical and specialist training approaches, particularly in the area of economics, technology and ICT, are being promoted through the theme of a Green Economy"
... given that such problems, approaches and solutions are much more amenable to specific identification and seductive promise than is what we are interested in. Moreover, our insistence on using the word "education" as though it were monolithic, and hence meaningful, and our talk of "this important role" as though there were only one, is all part of our own muddled thinking.
Is the role of a primary school really the same as the role of a university or a vocationally-focused college? I thought not. Does the role of a school remain the same from 4 to 19? Not at all. And then there's that role for that wide-spread community-grounded "learning" where no pedagogues are in view: does the notion of education really fit here? Well, it doesn't, and this lazy conflation of education and learning as an interchangeable ideas serves us very poorly.
Anyway, since when has it been a case of either education or training – as is unhelpfully implied here. We do our own case no good by rubbishing what seems a necessary complement to it, as education and training and life experience (all of divers kinds) can all lead to necessary learning.