UNESCO helps me remember the 1990s

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

More from UNESCO's Issues and trends in Education for Sustainable Development  [A. Leicht, J. Heiss and W. J. Byun (eds)].  As I omitted to say when I last commented on this book, this is not a 'keep-you-awake-at-night' stuff.  But there are things to note.  The first is about teacher education, and how old the literature cited is.  Take this (pps. 147/148).

Approaches to mainstreaming Learning for Sustainability in teacher education 

Despite international recognition of the significance of teacher education as a means to advance the status of ESD worldwide, there is still a need to mainstream Learning for Sustainability into pre-service teacher education in a consistent and coherent manner (Brinkman and Scott, 1994; Tilbury, Coleman and Garlick, 2005).  Some educators argue that this is the result of a gap between rhetoric and reality.  This gap has been the subject of much investigation and speculation (Ballantyne, 1995; Posch and Rauch, 1998; Scott, 1996a, 1996b; Spork, 1992; UNESCO, 2005a), and the following factors have been documented as possible explanations:

  • lack of consumer demand for Learning for Sustainability expertise from teacher registration boards, school communities and student teachers (Ballantyne, 1995);
  • competition for time in already overcrowded curricula, which tends to relegate ESD to elective courses (Ballantyne, 1995);
  • lack of cross-curricula dialogue and unwillingness to cooperate across discipline boundaries within teacher education (Thomas, 2004; Williams, 1992);
  • shortage of teacher educators with strong expertise in sustainability (Oulton and Scott, 1995; Papadimitrou, 1995);
  • diverse standards, structures and procedures across teacher education institutions (Scott, 1996a);
  • lack of professional development models that are congruent with Learning for Sustainability approaches (Tilbury, 1992); and
  • an inability to plan and strategically manage change within education systems (UNESCO, 2005a).

Although the most popular approach to integrating sustainability into teacher education programmes is to ‘work within current structures’, some educators criticise this approach as promoting a diluted version of sustainability (Huckle, 1996).  They argue that these changes cannot be sustained due to the misalignment between the guiding thinking of the programme and its methodology.  Other educators drawing upon the body of organizational change theory argue that small incremental steps that introduce cultural change gradually are necessary in order to effect broader and far-reaching systemic changes (Atkisson, 1999; Thomas, 2004).  The large body of literature on organizational change (Clark, 1993; Doppelt, 2003; Dunphy et al., 2000) can provide guidance here, especially with regard to recognizing the stages of organizational change and identifying where change occurs within a system.

This is quoting 20+ year old papers that I'd forgotten I'd written.  It was another life – one when I really did think that pre-service teacher education held possibilities for EE / LSD / etc.  Happy Daze.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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