Bill Scott's blog

Thoughts on learning, sustainability and the link between them

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.


Postcard from Sweden

📥  News and Updates

I've spent the last few days working with the GRESD network in Uppsala.  This is a splendid group of Swedish PhD candidates and supervisors interested in ESD issues, one way or another.  Between them, the research comprises a rich mixture of topics, approaches and preferences that it is a pleasure to be associated with (as a member of the small 'international scientific committee').  This meeting (the second) was rather usefully augmented by contributions from PhD candidates from South Africa, the UK and Denmark.  I'm envious as this network as we have nothing like it in the UK.  Perhaps it ought to be developed.


Goodbye to all the rainbows

📥  Comment

Farewell, then, DCSF; no more possibilities for jokes about soft furnishings and curtains; no more a colourful website; whatever the coalition turns out to be, it won't be a rainbow one it seems.  I'm told that the colour was drained from Sanctuary Buildings at double-quick time.  I think I shall miss it.

The Dissolution of the Quangos

📥  News and Updates

The new government's promise to release the creative talents of those locked into quangos has started with QCDA.  The Secretary of State's letter confirming this is here.  There are two reasons, it seems to me, to applaud this: [i] it frees up schools to be creative in their own right and rediscover the energies and skills to think about curriculum for the benefit of their students; and [ii], as the admirable Henry Hobhouse argues, just as the dissolution of the monasteries, 500 years ago, released energy and talent into the productive economy, so will the demise of the educational quangos.  Now for the TDA ...?


Evidence of impact of sustainable schools

📥  New Publications

DCSF has recently published evidence of impact of sustainable schools that CREE has produced.  This sets out the educational and social benefits to young people of learning in a sustainable school. Written for school leadership teams, under five themes, it sets out 15 top tips based on the impact of sustainable schools and ESD on school improvement and young people’s well-being as defined by every child matters outcomes.  Go here to download.


John Huckle redux

📥  News and Updates

It will be good to see John Huckle again after a few years when we share a platform at a School Design Futures seminar in Oxford next week.  I shall be arguing that policy and practice around sustainable schools, and ESD more generally, tends to be based around largely tacit and usually unexamined assumptions about young people’s motivations, interests and knowledge, and commenting on implications for the enhancement of learning.   John will tread more familiar ground:

“I will relate this very brief talk to introduce the session to an alternative eco-socialist mode of production and consumption; I will relate unsustainability to the social dynamics and logic of consumer capitalism; and sketch the main elements of the alternative outlined by Tim Jackson in Prosperity without Growth.  I will then draw on Benjamin Barber's text Consumed to consider the impact of consumerism on children and projects such Sustainable Consumption: Young Australians as Agents of Change to illustrate attempts to educate young people as catalysts of pro-enviornmental behaviour.  The limits of such projects will be explored and the case made for critical forms of ESD and consumer education linked to citizenship education.  These allow learners to recognize the values and interests underpinning different discourses of sustainability; develop sustainability as a frame of mind; and engage with community initiatives, such as LETS schemes that anticipate alternative modes of production and consumption.  The critical pedagogy outlined on the Open Spaces for Diaglogue and Enquiry website is central to such education and while current policy on sustainable schools is primarily concerned with ecological modernisation, or the greening of capitalism, the contradictions it raises provide space for conceptualizing sustainability and sustainable school design differently and so moving forward."

Looking forward to it ...


Just how sustainable will Sustainability prove to be?

📥  Comment

Last week's THE announced the resignation of the University of Gloucestershire's Vice Chancellor (Professor Patricia Broadfoot) amid what the THE called "conflicting views on financial health".   The THE reports that the University's 2008/09 financial statement showed a deficit of £6.3m from a turn-over of £67.4m.  There was no mention in the article of the University's strong focus on environmental and social sustainability, but let's hope that this is not something that gets played down as the institution rights itself.  I'll be watching out for the job advert – but only to see what this says!


Divisions of labour to be?

📥  Comment

I've been reading the Embercombe Centre's website with the details of their two wildcraft programmes:  One for young men:

You could find yourself building a coracle and sailing on the lake; climbing trees; constructing shelters; whittling around the camp fire; strumming a guitar; skinning and gutting a wild animal; cooking outdoors; bivouacking overnight; hiking across Dartmoor; learning the art of stalking; sailing a boat; starting a fire without matches; making new friends; navigating with a map and compass; talking about issues important to you; creating your own tools; working with wood and clay; making and playing a drum; discovering new gifts and strengths within yourself; making a leather scabbard or eating raw honey. Each weekend is unique, shaping itself around the interests, needs, ages and impulses of the group. Many regular Embercombe facilitators, highly skilled in their own fields, give their time for free to these weekends to support the growth of a strong group and offer role models to the participants.

... and one for young women:

Weekends will all be unique, responding to the group that forms, but the sort of activities you may find yourself enjoying include harvesting organic fruit and veg from Embercombe's market garden to cook over the camp-fire; learning techniques to expand your awareness so that you become less of a threat to the wildlife around you; making new friends; taking night walks in the woods and under the stars; chopping fire wood; storytelling – discussing ancient wisdom from old tales and telling your own stories; fire-side conversations; games at dusk; swimming in the lake; felting; weaving; gathering a wild food feast; expeditions, laughter, challenges, reflections ....

These experiences seem unusually gendered for these emancipated, equal opportunity days, and I wonder why young women can't get to skin and gut a wild animal, or do any of these other things that the young men get to do (and vice versa, of course).

I wonder if these skill sets, and this division of labour, represent the Centre's views of what a sustainable future will need?  I have asked.