Children’s motivations, interests and knowledge: lessons from sustainability

Posted in: New Publications

This was supposed to be the title of brief article I wrote for Primary Geography, and which has just been published.  Unfortunately, in the editing process, everything before, and including, the colon got lost, and I am left with the less informative: Lessons from sustainability.  I've also been gifted a recycling symbol as artwork, for which I'm quite ungrateful.

The article examines seven propositions, each of which has implications for primary geography (and much other) practice.

Pupils ...

  • come to school with experience, knowledge, understanding and concerns.
  • don’t learn what teachers teach.
  • are reluctant to absorb other people’s preoccupations and prejudices.
  • never respond well to pessimism and tales of looming disaster and dread.
  • are not there to cure their parents’ bad habits.
  • rarely judge school in terms of how relevant the content is.
  • cannot fully develop social and citizenly skills until they can practise them for real.

As such, it's a drawing together of ideas, rather than anything strikingly original, and was first conceived in work I did with Tide~Global Learning a while back.

It ends ...

Gayford (2009) shows that two key motivators for pupils occur where schools are seen not only to care enough to focus on sustainability issues but also to provide opportunities for the kind of participation that brings learning and the development of a sense of hope.  Such engagement with real social and community issues is at the heart of approaches where the purpose is to develop pupils’ understanding and capability to act, rather than to ensure that particular social benefits accrue.  This brings us back to our knowing that it is not just how pupils behave that matters.  What they learn, and how they are helped to learn, is vital.  Schools remain institutions whose prime social function is to aid that learning and primary geography is an indispensible contributor.

Scott W (2013) Lessons from Sustainability; Primary Geography 80 14-15

Posted in: New Publications


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