Bill Scott's blog

Thoughts on learning, sustainability and the link between them

New Report on Environmental Citizenship ...

📥  New Publications

... and pro-environmental behaviour.   The SDRN has released this report compiled by Andrew Dobson.   The report and a briefing paper are available as pdfs.

It provides an overview of research evidence relating to  environmental citizenship, considers the origins of the term, exploring how it is defined and the characteristics of ‘environmental citizens’.  It asks whether approaches based on environmental citizenship could be used as a means of encouraging pro-environmental behaviour and sets out more specific policy recommendations for how this may be done.  Looking forward to reading it.


Useful 'official' Sustainable School Links

📥  News and Updates

Janice Lawson has recently brought together the following 'official' sustainable school links.

a Qualifications and Curriculum Agency leaflet on building sustainable development into the curriculum

Teaching Awards showing national and regional winners in the sustainable schools category

The work of the National College on sustainable schools

Materials produced under the previous government to support sustainable schools


Good News from the DfE

📥  News and Updates

The following statement of support from ministers is on the DfE website:

The government is fully committed to sustainable development and the importance of preparing young people for the future.  Our approach to reform is based on the belief that schools perform better when they take responsibility for their own improvement.  We want schools to make their own judgements about how sustainable development should be reflected in their ethos, day to day operations and through education for sustainable development.  Those judgements should be based on sound knowledge and local needs.  The good practice materials that underpin the national framework for sustainable schools are available through the department's website"

Good.  Just what was needed; well done to Janice Lawson and Louise Jordan.  The "about how"  in the third sentence is hugely significant when compared to the existing default position of "about whether".


An Inspiring Day in Lewes

📥  News and Updates

To Lewes, yesterday, for the latest FERN meeting; as always, good to meet up to discuss research and environmental / sustainability education.  A modest, but quality, turn-out.

The main event of the day was to visit the Railway Land Project and to hear from the inspiring John Parry about its development (actually, his development of it) over 20+ years: inspiration, vision, perspiration and persistence – and a trust that the real and open involvement of a wide range of local people is the best way to create something of lasting social value – a process that never ends, of course.

Visit this if you can to see their new building, the reserves, and their work.  Better still, organise something there and put some resource into the project's further development.


Brilliant White Wheat

📥  News and Updates

A report in yesterday's Times (sorry, no link possible) about crop breeders developing glossy plants that will reflect more sunlight than duller varieties, and thus combat climate change.  Well, fine, but if there weren't so much prejudice against GMOs this would surely be just the time for Dulux to step forward and develop its own wheat varieties – gloss rather than matt, I presume.


UN World Grant Asia-Europe Promotion

📥  News and Updates

I heard this morning that I have won £475,000 in this United Nations "online international program" – and I didn't even have to apply.  Now, haven't I always said that the UN was wonderful?  All I have to do, it seems, it to hand over all my bank account details to a Mrs Miller ... .


DfE Plays a Straight Bat

📥  Comment

DfE (and Ofsted) have responded to the House of Commons Education Committee inquiry Transforming Education Outside the Classroom.  Annex 2 begins:

Progress since 2004:

1. Under the previous Administration, significant progress was made in bringing together organisations with an interest in promoting learning outside the classroom. These organisations have worked together on guidance and support for schools and on the development of the Quality Badge accreditation scheme under the direction of a new Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.

2. The Department for Education had a role to play in bringing the organisations together and pump-priming key developments. However, this Government believes that the time has come, as was always planned, for the Department to withdraw and leave the Council and member organisations to work directly with schools and learning outside the classroom providers.

3. We agree with the Committee about the importance of learning outside the classroom.  But we also believe it should be for schools to decide how to teach and what mediums to use to deliver that teaching. This includes learning outside the classroom which, like learning within the classroom, should be a matter for teachers’ professional judgement and not something prescribed by central government or imposed on schools through bureaucratic requirements.

4.  We are not therefore able to accept those recommendations of the Committee which call for additional resources, government regulation, monitoring or guidance.

5.  We want to ensure that schools have the maximum freedom to teach in the way that they judge best for their pupils, including through Learning Outside the Classroom activities, and we are ready to explore how to increase school freedom in this regard by, for example, reviewing the constraints flowing from unnecessary Health and Safety red tape or from teachers’ pay and conditions.


Tricky, isn't it, when you want professional autonomy and freedom of action for schools and teachers, but you'd also like your own special interests fed, watered and promoted (always with the conviction that they are absolutely necessary at this time ...).

It will be worth watching how long Mr Gove can keep the bat straight when the wicket begins to cut up a bit.



Encountering a Pair of Scoundrels

📥  Comment

It is with immense sadness that I have to report that my scholarly work has been traduced (yet again!); though mugged might be a better word.

It's easy really: you find a quote that suits your purpose, you copy it making sure to cite it properly; you ignore the surrounding text that gives it context, meaning, and nuance, and then you use it to bolster your own, obviously threadbare, arguments, inviting the unaware reader to think that the copied words have the meaning you give them and not their original ones.  If you can score a few mean-spirited points along the way, so much the better.

The offending quotation is in an edited piece soon to hit the publisher's shelves.  It's hard to blame the two authors entirely as they clearly regard this sort of thing, and the ungenerous lack of reflexivity that goes with it, as good academic practice, and one of them has more form in this regard than a Derby winner.  More appropriate, perhaps, to look to the editors; they are, after all, supposed to protect academic standards – and academics.  But who's to keep an eye on the editors, as that long-dead Roman might have said had he been around today.  No one it seems.

All very sad really.  Not for me, as I'm sure that anyone who knows my work will see the use of the quotation for the pathetic perversion it.  But for them.  A right pair of scoundrels they may be, but that doesn't mean that some sympathy isn't due: finding it necessary  to do things like this cannot be much fun.


Cui Bono?

📥  New Publications

Today's Guardian has a story about a report on the Fairtrade Foundation which compares its effectiveness unfavourably with multinationals (Nestlé, etc) when it comes to helping developing world coffee farmers.  This is an IEA report which seems to say, amongst other things, "Fairtrade requirements [on farmers] may well reflect the subjective views of western consumers and not the real needs of poor producers."   I say "seems" because, curiously, the Guardian doesn't cite the report, or give its title, and, even more curiously, there isn't a mention of, or link to it, on the IEA website.

Thanks to DEA, who did find it here .  They also give a link to the Fairtrade Foundation's response.

Of course, the IEA was hardly likely to support special interest groups, and many will be tempted to dismiss the report unread because it's from the IEA. A pity.

All this prompts the question: who really benefits from fairtrade?  It seems to me that, while UK shops and importers obviously gain through this dedicated and valued (in both senses) trade, consumers do too: from the conviction that they're doing some good in far away places.


Climate Change Politics

📥  Comment

I have been reading Richard D North's blog – once again – having been absent from it for an inexplicably long while.  Whilst it is wide-ranging, it seems to me to be particularly helpful on the politics of climate change.  Certainly, I find that reading about what he does and doesn't know / think / believe about carbon and climate is helpful as I (again) try to sort out what I think myself.   More on this follows, I suspect, now that I've rediscovered him.