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Thoughts on learning, sustainability and the link between them

How young people experience the SDGs across the UK

📥  Comment, Talks and Presentations

As I noted yesterday, I am at St George's House, Windsor, at a consultation with a focus on young people and the sustainable development goals.  As an introduction to four presentations (from across the UK) about what they are trying to achieve when exploring the SDGs with young people, the following text was agreed by the presenters:

For the sustainable development goals to be successful – citizens, including young people, must be provided with:

  • participatory, creative and transformative learning experiences which enable them to understand the challenges, complexities, injustices, interdependencies of our world through addressing topics such as climate change and poverty
  • the opportunity to explore and understand the opportunities, connections, common aspirations and common humanity within our world
  • an education which provides them with the opportunity to develop the essential skills, attitudes and dispositions that will enable and empower them as active citizens contributing to the achievement of the goals and thus a fair and sustainable world through their own choices, behaviours and actions.

Although universal and collaborative, the goals themselves are not perfect.  Some feel they do not go far enough to address the root causes of global poverty and inequality and indeed may reinforce the unjust international system.  We must ensure that actions taken to address the SDGs use social justice rather than charity based approaches.  Therefore, we must equip young people with the skills to think critically about the goals themselves and about whether they truly address the root causes of poverty, inequality and climate change and to understand how to influence and effect change locally and globally.

At one level all this is fine, and none of it comes as any surprise, but there is something of a fault line in it.

This is evident in the last sentence, and in the 3rd bullet point:

"... we must equip young people with the skills to think critically about the goals ..."

"an education which provides them with the opportunity to develop the essential skills, attitudes and dispositions that will enable and empower them as active citizens contributing to the achievement of the goals ..."

It is, after all, conceivable that such an education might not result in people who want to "contribute to the achievement of the goals ... through their own choices, behaviours and actions".

That's the problem with (and great strength of) education at its best: it's wonderfully open-ended and unpredictable where learners don't always (want to) learn what their teachers teach.

One Response to “How young people experience the SDGs across the UK”

  1. Ben Ballin on

    Now, if you believe that knowledge is socially constructed, then young people NEVER learn what teachers teach. (I think you may have said this once, and it struck me as very plausible). Teaching can only help enable the process of learning, learning only ever happens in the learner.
    By the way, I am also heartily of the view that young people are not simply citizens in waiting (or worse, unformed human beings) but people in their own right, with rights and responsibilities in relation to the world around them, and a massive stake in the future. Depending on age and capacity, however, those responsibilities might quite reasonably not be as burdensome as those assumed by adults. How young people are invited to the table, and to help set the agenda, are therefore complex but essential questions.

    Reply

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