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    TwentyfirstCenturyEducation:TransformativeEducationforSustainabilityandResponsibleCitizenship1

    DavidV.J.Bell,PhDChair,LearningforaSustainableFuture(www.lsflst.ca)

    ProfessorEmeritusandFormerDean,FacultyofEnvironmentalStudies,YorkUniversity

    Ifyouareplanningahead1year,plantaseed.Ifyouareplanningahead10years,plantatree.

    Ifyouareplanningahead100years,educatethepeople.HungHsu,Chinesepoet,500BC

    Ministries of Education in Canada and around the world are abuzz with excitingconversations and significant policy commitments around twenty first centuryeducation. Butunlesstheyare lookingatthistopicthroughasustainability lens,theywill be missing some of its most important elements. This paper explores theopportunities and benefits of connecting the discourse on twenty first centuryeducationwithEducationforSustainableDevelopment(ESD)anddevelopinganexcitingnewvisionof21stcenturyeducationforsustainabilityandresponsiblecitizenship.Though it has intellectual roots in Ancient Greek and Chinese philosophy and intraditional ecological knowledge, ESD entered the global discourse on educationthroughAgenda21,thedocumentsignedbyeverynationintheworldattheRioEarthSummitin1991.2Thewordeducationappearsineachofthe40chaptersofAgenda21,but it was given special treatment in chapter 36: Promoting Education, PublicAwareness,andTraining.InkeepingwiththeemphasisoftheRioEarthSummit(theofficialtitleofwhichwastheUN Conference on Environment and Development) the initial definition of ESD inAgenda 21 was rather narrow: it referred to the need to include attention toenvironmentanddevelopment ineducation curricula. ButAgenda21also suggestedbroadeningthefocusofESD(whichhascontinuedtoevolveeversince)tolookatsocialandculturaldimensions. Thisbroaderfocus informedtheEcoEdConferenceheldafewmonths afterRio in Toronto; and theWorldConference on ESD held in 1997 inThessalonikiGreece.

    1IamgratefultoAdrienneSmithforresearchandeditorialassistancewiththispaper.2ForanoverviewofthehistoryofESDseeDavidVJBell,ESD:CureorPlacebo?inGlenTonerandJamesMeadowcroft(eds)Innovation,ScienceandEnvironment:SpecialEditionChartingSustainableDevelopmentinCanada19872027.(McGillQueensPress,2009).

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    In 2004, the UN declared the Decade on ESD (20052014) recognizing that ESDdevelops and strengthens the capacity of individuals, groups, communities,organizations, and countries tomake judgments and choices in favourof sustainabledevelopment.Itcanpromoteashiftinpeoplesmindsetsand,insodoing,enablethemtomakeourworldsafer,healthier,andmoreprosperous,therebyimprovingthequalityoflife.3EducationforSustainableDevelopment(ESD)isthereforeinessence,andbydefinition,educationforthe21stcentury.AccordingtotheUnitedNationsEconomicCommissionfor Europe (the UN regional grouping of 54 countries that includes Canada) ESDpromotes sustainable thinking and acting. It enables children and adults to makedecisions and at the same time understand how those decisions affect futuregenerationsandthe lifeofothers. SimilarlythemissionofLearningforaSustainableFuture (LSF),anationalNGOestablished in1991by theNationalRoundTableon theEnvironmentandtheEconomy,istoinspireanewgenerationofresponsiblecitizensbypromoting,througheducation,theknowledge,skills,values,perspectivesandpracticesessentialtoasustainablefuture.And yet a separate discourse has emerged about 21st century education that,whileoutlining important21stcenturyskillsandcompetences,typicallymakesnomentionofESD and arguably pays insufficient attention to the sustainability challenges thatwilllikelydefinetheprospectsforhumanexistenceonthisplanetbeyondthenextcentury.UNESCOestablishedaCommissiononEducationfortheTwentyfirstCenturyunderthechairmanshipofJacquesDelors.Its1998ReportentitledLearning:TheTreasureWithin,shapedsubsequentdiscussionsaroundtheglobe,andspawnedaseriesofOECDstudiesaspartoftheMillenniumLearningProject.CommentingseveralyearslaterontheCasefor Twentyfirst Century Learning, OECD official Andreas Schleicher stated Agenerationago,teacherscouldexpectthatwhattheytaughtwouldlasttheirstudentsalifetime.Today,becauseofrapideconomicandsocialchange,schoolshavetopreparestudentsfor jobsthathavenotyetbeencreated,technologiesthathavenotyetbeeninventedandproblemsthatwedon'tyetknowwillarise.4

    Manycountriesdevelopedtheirownperspectiveontwentyfirstcenturyeducation.Inthe United States an organization called the Partnership for the 21st century (P21)focused primarily on preparing students (and by extension the US) to be morecompetitive in the currentglobaleconomy.Given that themain fundersofP21werelarge IT companies likeCisco,Microsoft, and Intel, some criticizedP21 as anarrowlydisguised effort to increase sales of computers and software. A more trenchantcriticismwas thatanarrow focuson skill sets foremployabilityoften fail[s] to take

    ntallimits,socialjustice,oradaptationtothedeterioratingintoconsiderationenvironme

    3CMEC,BackgroundPaperonESD:DevelopingaPanCanadianESDFramework orCollaborationandActionf4Availableathttp://www.oecd.org/general/thecasefor21stcenturylearning.htm

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    approximately2.3planetsea

    abilityoftheEarthtosupporthuman lifeand,therefore,[is]unlikelytoservethe longterminterestsoflearners,businesses,societiesorthehumanspecies.5AnumberofCanadianjurisdictionsadoptededucationforthe21stcenturyasaframeforthinkingaboutfuturedirectionsofeducationinCanada.Aswell,someofthemostimportant work in Canada has been undertaken by an NGO called C21, which isdedicated to developing a national learning vision founded on Canadian values andprinciples. Its report called Shifting Minds provides an excellent summary andoverviewofhoweachprovincehasapproachedtheconceptof21stcenturyeducation.6ItofferssevenGuidingPrinciplesincludingtheassertionthatliteracy,numeracy,lifeskillsand21stCenturycompetenciesmustnowbethefoundational learningoutcomesofCanadaspubliceducationsystem.Furthermoretechnologymustbeusedtoattainthecompetenciesrequired foreconomic,social,environmental, financialandpersonalgrowthandprogress.TheworkofC21 ismorewellrounded than thatofP21butbothputagreatdealofemphasisonpreparing students for employment in the current global economy. Theproblemwith this approach is that it begs the questionwhether the current globaleconomy is itselfsustainableover thecourseof thiscentury. According to theWorldBusiness Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) an organization whosemembershipcomprises29ofthelargest,mostimportantcompaniesontheplanetitisnot.WBCSDhas recentlypublishedadocumententitledVision2050: theNewAgenda forBusiness.Toprepare the report the29membercompaniesworkedwitheachother,with hundreds of representatives from business, government and civil society, withregional partners andwith experts. Their vision is simple and straightforward: In2050,some9billionpeoplelivewell,andwithinthelimitsoftheplanet.7In disturbing contrast to this vision of a sustainableworldWBCSD has projected theconsequencesofacontinuation to2050ofBusinessAsUsual. Thecurrent trajectoryleads to a very negative future including severe ecosystem degradation, increasedclimatechange,diresocialimpactsofincreasingpovertyandglobalunemployment.Interms of environmental impact, their research shows that we would require

    rth tosupportcurrent levelsofresourceandenergyuse,

    5ArranStibbeandHeatherLuna,IntroductiontoTheHandbookofSustainabilityLiteracy.Availableonlineathttp://arts.brighton.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/5591/Introduction2.pdf.TheauthorsgoontocallforAlternativepossibilitiesmoregroundedintherealitiesofthec angingworldbutwithoutreproducingthesametickboxapproachtoskillsassociatedwithbothdominantdiscoursesandwithsomeeffortstodefinesustainabilityliteracyinthepast.

    h

    6C21Canada,ShiftingMinds,availableatwww.c21canada.org.7Vision2050isapictureofthebestpossibleoutcomeforthehumanpopulationandtheplanetitlivesonoverthenextfourdecades.Inanutshell,thatoutcomewouldbeaplanetofaround9billionpeople,alllivingwellwithenoughfood,cleanwater,sanitation,shelter,mobility,educationandhealthtomakeforwellnesswithinthelimitsofwhatthissmall,fragileplanetcansupplyandrenew,everyday.MessagefromtheCoChairs,Vision2050.

    http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/5591/Introduction2.pdf

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    andwasteproduction,projectedout foraglobalpopulationwhichbymostestimateswillreach9billionby2050.Soacontinuationto2050ofcurrentbusinessandeconomicpractices isnotclosetobeingsustainableonthisplanet. Andyetmostdiscussionsof21stcenturyeducationarepremisedonservicing,ratherthantransforming,thecurrentglobaleconomy.Tooverhauloureducationsystemstobetterserveaneconomicmodelthatisitselfdesignedforthe20thratherthanthe21stcenturyisabitlikenavigatingthecomplexenvironmentofthefuturebypeeringrelentlesslyintoarearviewmirror.8ESD brings a critical and missing perspective. It is based on the assumption thatappropriateeducationforthe21stcenturymustpaycarefulattentiontotheinterlinkedenvironmental, social and economic challenges facing humankind over the next 100yearsor so. Students inprimaryand secondary schools todaywill likely live throughmost of the balance of this century. Life expectancies in the 80s and 90swill becommonplace.9StudentsinKindergartentodaywillbeinmidcareerin2050.Whatsortofworldwilltheyface?Whatkindsoflearning,andwhatlifeskills,willtheyrequiretolivewellinsuchaworld?ESDalso recognizes that the future itself isnotpredetermined. On the contrary it isamenabletoconsciouseffortstomove inamoredesirabledirection (notwithstandingthehard kernelof truth in theold saying life iswhathappenswhilewearemakingplans.)A criticalelementof ESD is futures thinking:enhancing students capacity toenvisionamoresustainablefutureandtotakeactionsinthepresentthatwillshiftthetrajectoryofchangeinamoresustainabledirection.10Ofcoursevisioning,goalsettingandstrategicplanningmustbe informedbyanacuteawarenessofcurrentrealityandprojectedtrends,ofkeydriversandhighleverageopportunities.Atthepresenttimethereisagreatdealofeffor

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