What does sustainability mean to you?
The ability to maintain an ecosystem (nature, finances, people, systems, etc.) over a long period of time.
How have the education systems you've experienced prepared you to interact with the natural world?
Sadly, the natural world is a huge gap in my knowledge. While I took the requisite basic biology courses in high school and college, I was bored out of my mind. So, I never rarely paid attention in class (except to regurgitate “vacuous” information on multiple choice tests), nor did I make connections with what I was learning in the classroom and the natural world/other disciplines.
I don’t really understand how the natural world works and having lived in big cities for so long, I feel rather divorced from it.
But, at least I am starting to be conscious of this. I just moved to a neighborhood with lots of green, sand and amazing migratory birds in Dubai. I need to start observing the natural world more. I can’t really say what will happen after that. But, consciousness is the first step of the change cycle. Right?!
Do you agree with the messages in above video Two Loops: How Systems Change? Please explain your response.
Yes. I think the system diagrammed is an accurate description of how systems change (peak oil → alternative energy, rail → planes, landlines → mobile phones, etc.). I like that the Deborah addresses the issue of “good hospice work”. I think many of the groups out there that try to promote a “save the planet” agenda are naive about the time it takes for systems to change. Or, they are promoting eco-work that works in small communities, but may not be ready for “the masses” yet. They can also come off as extreme and demeaning at times based on the language/activism tactics used.
I remember learning in my life coaching class, “What you say rarely offends people. It’s how you say it, that makes all of the difference”. Many great eco-friendly ideas, systems, etc. need to be repackaged (marketing-wise) in a language that the “eco-unaware” can make sense of, relate to and feel comfortable with. For those that want to pioneer new systems/ideas/eco-work, understanding human psychology and developing a skill around compassionate rhetoric are a must.
David Orr writes in his essay above, "If education is to be measured against the standard of sustainability, what can be done?" How would you answer this questions as it pertains to your community?
Sustainability can apply to so many areas. But, in the area of the environment I think schools, businesses, NGOS and key decision-makers need to sit at the same table to discuss what it means to have a sustainable ecology and economy in the desert. We are so disconnected from how our food is grown, how it comes to the supermarket, simple initiatives that can be undertaken at home to save electricity and water... Note: I think this applies to lots of places (not just desert cities).
A few strategic public service announcements and informational posters at the supermarket could go a long way towards educating the public about issues related to food, water and electricity. Schools could also do more in the curriculum and process of education to encourage awareness and conscious actions when it comes to the environment. For example, conducting classes in the desert or having a school garden, helps kids connect with the land in a real (non-theoretical) way.
How do you plan to bring more sustainable practices into your own teaching and learning?
1) Start thinking about sustainability!
2) Make concrete connections between my concept of sustainability and how I operate within myself, family, business, the community, environment, etc.
3) As I organize a number of educational programs for the community, I want to bring more sustainability and eco-talks to the region. This week was a good start. We invited a permaculturist to give a community talk on how to grow sustainably in the the desert. I really like the permaculture philosophy of observe first and minimum input to get maximum output. From the little I understand, permaculture design also really focuses on “the long term” sustainability of environmental systems.
What other ideas or questions did you think about as you explored this week's topic?
Orr discusses learning as a process, not an output. I think this is critical for educationists to wrap their heads around!
He also brings up a wise point that “education is no guarantee of decency”. Of recent I’ve realized that while I am very “educated,” there are many ways in which I can be much more decent to the natural world in how I shop, cook, dispose of waste, use water, etc.
We bought a bokashi (http://www.bokashi.com.au) system this week for the house. We are turning our natural food waste into fermented soil food. As the system fills up with discarded seeds, orange peels, leftover spaghetti, etc., I am amazed at how much I throw away each week that can be turned into really great “natural fertilizer” for our yard. Next step, start growing veggies!
Creating sustainable education systems (June 25-July 4, 2012)
This week we think about sustainability and how we can learn about and adapt more sustainable learning practices within our own communities and those around the world.
Please watch the following videos this week:
Warriors without Weapons in Santos Brazil (~6 minutes). See other videos from around the world on the Walk Out Walk On website.
Two Loops, How Systems Change (~7 minutes). Learn more about the Berkana Institute here.
The following optional readings build upon this week's topic:
- What is Education For? by David Orr, Oberlin College (*Note: This short essay is a highly recommended read for framing the issue of sustainability in education. It brings up a number of thought-provoking points.)
- Learning to Be... Sustainable edited by John Blewitt and Cedric Cullingford, pages 32-34 (offered for free on Google Books) within The Sustainability Curriculum: The Challenge for Higher Education
- Transformative Tools for Sustainability Education prepared by Julie Johnston and Peter Carter for the World Environmental Education Conference in Durban, South Africa in 2007
- Joi Ito's Near Perfect Explanation of the Next 100 Years by Christopher Mims, Technology Review (MIT)
Note: A big thanks goes out to Kamyar Houbakht for sharing many of the resources above, as this is an area I am quite new to. Kamayar is a wonderful educator and friend that never ceases to stretch my thinking. - Anna
Please discuss the following questions below. Then throughout the week, try to respond to at least two other comments from your colleagues.
- What does sustainability mean to you?
- How have the education systems you've experienced prepared you to interact with the natural world?
- Do you agree with the messages in above video Two Loops: How Systems Change? Please explain your response.
- David Orr writes in his essay above, "If education is to be measure against the standard of sustainability, what can be done?" How would you answer this questions as it pertains to your community?
- How do you plan to bring more sustainable practices into your own teaching and learning?
- What other ideas or questions did you think about as you explored this week's topic?
- Please respond to at least 2 other comments from your colleagues this week.
Skype Discussion, Optional:
We will not have a facilitator organized Skype call this week. That said, you are welcome to organize and facilitate a group call with your colleagues.