Teacher Education and Sustainability

Teacher Education; Competences
for ESD & Sustainability
Susan Barker
University of Alberta
[email protected]
Goals of presentation
Highlight the shift towards competence based
education for ESD, the challenge that this
places for teachers and teacher education
and recommendations for moving forwards
ESD – Education for Sustainable Development
Competence and Competency
Aim of ESD
Dynamic concept that encompasses a new vision of
education that seeks to empower people of all ages
to assume responsibility for creating and enjoying a
sustainable future (UNESCO 2002).
Pursuing SD through education requires educators
and learners to reflect critically on their own
communities, identify non-viable elements in their
lives and explore tensions between conflicting
values and goals.
Thinking time
Kinder Surprise Egg- Global phenomenon
Framing the challenges of teacher education in
Clarke (2012) ecological blindness and urban
Model: take, make and dump
Conceived as a disposable commodity – start to
finish and waste is globally transmitted
What is wrong with Kinder Surprises?
Aluminium wrapper – Australia
Chocolate- Ghana?
Plastic casing and toy – China
Set of instructions varies
One Kinder egg is benign but globally a huge pile of toxic
One poorly educated learner adds a lifetime of human toxicity
Its no excuse to claim we don’t know what we were doing.
Current Teacher Education Programs
• Curriculum shaped by school curriculum and
thus focuses on knowledge and skills;
• Connected to requirements for teacher
• Often prescribed by government;
• Curriculum and assessment practices are
developed alongside each other.
Competence Approach
Lack of relevance of current education provision
and the need to produce change agents.
Competences been around since 1980s in
education mostly vocational- however in ESD it
rarely refers to the ability to do a particular activity
to a pre-determined and prescribed standard- ESD
needs to be much more flexible.
Sleurs (2008) Competence approach asks not what
should be taught, but what should be learned,
what abilities for acting, which concepts and
problem-solving strategies should we have
acquired as a result of the learning process”
Competences for Sustainability
2012 – UNECE (United Nations
Economic Commission for Europe).
Defined competences for ESD- of significant
relevance to teacher educators worldwide and
major contribution to United Nations Decade for
Sustainable Development.
 prepare general recommendations for policy
 define a range of core competences in ESD for
Framework of Competences
Learning to know. For ESD the educator should know…….
Learning to do. For ESD the educator should be able
Learning to be. For ESD the educator should be………….
Learning to live and work together. For ESD the educator
should live and work with others in a way which………….
ESD Competences UNECE (2012)
Areas of focus
• Critical thinking and acting ethically for
• Shifting perspectives in time, space, culture
and discipline;
• Dealing with risk and uncertainity on a
journey towards shared and positive futures;
• Effectively facilitating learning.
Where are the challenges for teachers and
teacher education?
Initiatives in Canada
There is modest but promising progress
toward reorienting teacher education to
address education for sustainable
Key drivers and enablers- individual champions,
as well as partnerships and collaboration with
other departments on campus and with education
faculties at other institutions. Key barriers and
challenges include communication gaps within
faculties, competing interests and priorities within
faculties, funding challenges, and lack of
professional development opportunities.
with McKeown and Hopkins 2005
Guidelines and Recommendations for
Reorienting Teacher Education to Address
Need to develop and design new pedagogies
“next practices” to help us address a continually changing
landscape of ESD. Sustainability is not static……will need to
evolve with changing need and emphases (Stir, 2004)
Education is perfectly placed to create conditions for
innovative and imaginative solutions but a total
transformation of schools and education is needed.
However we need to simplify in order to get teacher ‘buy in’.
ESD competences need to be aligned with current curricula
be flexible and need to be locally based.
We need to develop mechanisms by which we can measure
achievements and progression.
Perils of education for ESD
Education can also play the opposite role:
deadening curiosity and innovation;
encouraging acceptance of unsustainable living
as being normal; and teaching learners to
passively wait for others to take action. From a
sustainable development perspective, then,
education is both a great hope and a great
danger ( UNESCO 2013- advanced copy
“Empowering educators for a sustainable
Clarke, P. ( 2012) Education for Sustainability:Becoming Naturally Smart.
Council of Ministers of Education Canada (2012) Education for Education for
Sustainable Development in Canadian Faculties of Education. Toronto.
Sleurs, W. ( Ed) (2008) Competences for ESD Education for Sustainable
Development) teachers. Comenius, Brussels. www.csct-project.org.
McKeown R. and Hopkins, C. 2005. Guidelines and Recommendations for
Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability
Mochizuki, Y and Fadeeva, (2010). Competences for Sustainability and
Sustainable Development. International Journal of Sustainability in
Education, 11, p 391-403.
Sleurs, W( ed) ( 2008) www.ensi.org/Projects/Teacher_Education/CSCT/.
UNECE, (2012) Learning for the Future. Competences in Education
Sustainable Development. www.unece.org/env
UNESCO (2002)Education for Sustainability-From Rio to
Johannesburg:Lessons Learnt from a Decade of Commitment.
Wiek, A., Withycombe L. & Redman C.L ( 2011). Key competences in
sustainability: a reference framework for academic program
development. Sustainability Science 6, p203-218.
Thank you

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