Teaching beyond the Age of StupidESD retrospect and prospect John Huckle Open University Day School March 13th 2010
In the Age of Stupid . . . • Resource intensive economic growth driven by companies (profit); governments (tax revenues); and citizens (rising living standards) • Advances in science and risk assessment; new social movements concerned with the environment and development; more institutions and laws to tackle environmental and social problems; BUT
The four inter-linked parts of humanity’s basic problem • We are living well beyond the planet’s capacity to regenerate itself (ecosystem collapse, biodiversity loss, climate change) • Global inequality is intolerable (richest 1% earns as much as poorest 57%) – and not enough resources to grow the world out of poverty • Our economic system is highly unstable • ‘More’ and ‘better’ have parted company – more wealth is not translating into greater wellbeing and happiness.
The four-capitals model • Ecological capital. The biophysical resources and services that contribute to human welfare • Human capital. The health, knowledge and skills that enable people to contribute to economic production and social reproduction • Social and organisational capital. The characteristics of social organisations that enhance the productivity of human capital • Manufactured capital. All the tools, machines, buildings, technologies and infrastructure that enhance productivity (what conventional economists refer to as capital)
SD requires us to sustain three sets of relationships • Relations among humans based on mutual respect and tolerance. Just relations allow equitable access to food, clothing, health care and meaningful work, provide for freedom of thought and mental development, and promote democratically determined economic and political decisions (social relations) • Relations among humans and other species that minimise human impact on other species and their environments or habitats (environmental relations) • Relations between organisms and their environment that have created the climate, water cycle, radioactive levels, and other environmental conditions (ecological processes) that we have experienced throughout most of human history. (ecological relations) (Hartmann, 1998)
Sustainability is about healthy relationships Sustainability is less about keeping particular things going forever and more about maintaining healthy social, environmental and ecological relationships Sustainability requires a shift in our thinking (teaching, learning) – from focusing mostly on things to focusing mostly on relationships. We need to think/teach/learn less about things in themselves and much more about things in relationships – in networks or systems
Citizen ethics and democracy – the keys to sustainability • Companies, governments and citizens are no longer guided by ethics or considerations of what is the right thing to do • Citizens (civil society) must re-assert the need for sustainability (healthy relationships); call those in power to account; and so promote the common good. • Democracy is the means by which citizens call power to account; agree ways of regulating relationships; and so realize their interests in sustainability. • Sustainability requires new kinds of environmental, ecological and global democracy and citizenship.
Sustainability needs democracy . . • To expose complex issues to the widest possible scrutiny and debate • To give government real support and power to regulate companies and markets • To revitalise interest in politics and trust in politicians • To allow all citizens to shape the path to sustainability . But what kind of democracy?
Environmental, ecological and global citizenship Environmental citizenship: the claiming of environmental rights against the state in a traditionally conceived public sphere and through the political mechanisms associated with that sphere. Ecological citizenship: the exercise of ecologically related responsibilities, nationally, internationally and intergenerationally, rooted in justice, in both the public and private spheres. Global citizenship: exercise of rights and responsibilities within all spheres of one’s life (economic, political, cultural) at all scales from the local to the global
Classical and contemporary democracy Classical democracy Contemporary democracy Delivers ‘negative’ freedom for individuals to pursue their private interests An active elite political leadership and a passive majority of citizens Political education largely for an elite • Delivers ‘positive freedom’ for citizens to realize their capacities by participating in society • Continually expanding opportunities for citizens to participate in public decision-making by bringing economic, political and social institutions under democratic control • Requires political education for all
Education for sustainable development (ESD) is essentially about . . • Moral education to explore those values needed to sustain healthy relationships • Citizenship education to explore what kinds of democracy and citizenship might best realise these values • Learning by doing – developing values and citizenship through active and critical engagement in community based projects relating to sustainability
The national framework for sustainable schools comprises three interlocking parts: • A commitment to care – extends the school’s commitment to care to include care for people at a distance, future generations, and the rest of the living world • An integrated approach to ESD – the school explores SD through the curriculum (learning and teaching), campus (buildings and grounds), and its engagement with the community (near and far) • A selection of doorways – entry points through which schools can establish or develop their sustainability practices.
5 elements of a commitment to care 1) The economy should meet human needs and improve quality of life. 2) The economy is bounded by ecosystem limits. 3) Equity for present and future generations. 4) Reverence for all life. 5) Appropriate scale and optimal diversity. Stewart Wallis, New Economics Foundation, 2010.
1 The economy should meet human needs and improve quality of life. Needs over wants. A ban or tax on certain forms of advertising. A luxury tax. Implementation of UN Declaration of Human Rights – social and economic rights for all. Global taxation and redistribution – Tobin tax. Different measurement systems to replace GDP with emphasis on wellbeing. economic stability, ecological health of planet. Greater focus on non-monetised economy, caring and community work. Work and basic income for all.
2 The economy is bounded by ecosystem limits Prices to reflect ecological and social costs. Environmental tax reform. Closed loop production systems. Appropriate technologies. Very low consumption of non-renewables. Shift away from consumerism.
3 Equity for present and future generations All people have an equal claim – those who use more than their fair share should pay a rental to those using less than their fair share. Carbon rationing. Erode power of minorities in markets. Reform company structures and law to ensure shareholder value is not the only consideration Co-ordinated and participatory economic planning. Co-operatives.
4 Reverence for all life. Move from a people centred to a biosphere centred approach. Factor the aesthetic, spiritual, scientific and existence values of nature into decision making alongside its economic value. Recognise all life as part of economic system – water, land, minerals, see, air - we are stewards never owners. We are part of nature not apart from nature (modern dualism).
5 Appropriate scale and optimal diversity. Think beyond economies of scale. Optimal diversity may require us to develop on a smaller scale. Objective must be interdependent and outward looking communities.
ESD’s key concepts and citizenship education • Citizenship and stewardship • Interdependence • Needs and rights of future generations • Diversity • Quality of life • Sustainable change • Uncertainty and precaution Gaining the skills, knowledge and understanding to become informed global citizens, recognising that we have rights and responsibilities to participate in decision making and that everyone should have a say in what happens in future. Holland Report, 1998
Pupils are active in the learning process and much learning is experiential Pupils are taught to think critically as they investigate issues relevant to their present and future lives Pupils develop a critical understanding of their own histories and futures Pupils learn about existing social and cultural structures and processes and more democratic alternatives Pupils clarify and develop values Pupils develop the knowledge, skills and values required by active and critical citizens Critical pedagogy: students as researchers
Teachers are co-researchers with pupils into the structures and processes that prevent/encourage social justice and sustainability Teachers share their aims and theory with their pupils Teachers organise democratic, informal yet intellectually disciplined classrooms Teachers encourage students to see themselves not as consumers but as producers of knowledge Teachers relinquish their authority as truth providers and assume the authority of facilitators. Critical pedagogy: teachers as facilitators
Consumed: how markets infantalize adults and swallow children whole, Benjamin Barber • A world of too many commodities and too few shoppers • A new cultural ethos of induced childishness • Young grow up too fast, adults remain perpetual adolescents, poor are exploited and abandoned • Environment exploited for ecological resources and services
The corruption of children • Business, government and educational institutions engage in infantalization and the associated practices of privatisation and branding • Target children as consumers • Bypass parents and teachers as ‘gatekeepers’ of children’s autonomy • Consumer brands become key sources of life narratives and identity • Convergence of tastes in a global youth market
Narcissists . . . • Has huge expectations of themselves and their lives • Make unrealistic predictions about what they can achieve • Seek fame and status and the related materialism • Admires the brand labels and lavish lifestyles that are the status symbols of the rich
And Laura’s right in the heart of it. Set against a background of student revolt and riots, her band, the dirty angels are gigging all over town until a police crackdown forces them out of the city. In exile on her parents’ farm in Oxfordshire, the band vow to carry on. But the country’s no safe place to be either and soon they are on their way to Europe, on tour with the fabulous Tiny Chainsaws in the Distance. But the tour soon unravels in a mad sequence of events that include drought in Europe and Africa, a tidal-wave of desperate immigrants, a water war in the Middle East and a city-wide face off with the army in London. Not to mention infidelity, betrayal, friendship, love and massive courage.
The erosion of democracy • Neo-liberalism seeks liberation of individuals from government and public provision • It associates liberty (sustainability) with personal choice of the kind exercised by consumers (green consumerism) • It undermines collective choice (democracy) and the social contract whereby individuals give up unsecured private liberty for public liberty and common security (sustainability).
Labour’s education policy • Target culture and increased testing • Increased inspection • More choice and increased stratification of schools • Increased involvement of the private sector • Rising standards in basic subjects • More spending and new buildings • More help for the disadvantaged • Introduction of citizenship education • Erosion of comprehensive principle
Contradictions . . . . . • More individualism (testing and competition) erodes principle of care • Greater inequality of provision part closes doorway of inclusion • More parental choice part closes the doorway of travel and traffic • Erosion of comprehensive principle part closes doorway of local well-being • Privatisation of school catering part closes doorway of food and drink • New school buildings do not incorporate ecological design
School survey results (Ofsted,2008) • In most schools….there was little emphasis on sustainable development and limited awareness of national and local government policies for this area. • In the large majority of schools, promoting sustainable development through National Curriculum subjects was inconsistent and uncoordinated • In many schools, sustainable development is a peripheral issue, often confined to extra curricular activities and involving only a minority of pupils