GAIA-YES! seminar ‘Holistic Sustainable Curriculum for Schools’
DAY 2 ‘Educational mission & attitude’
On April 20-24 2021 the second seminar of GAIA YES! – Youth Education for Sustainability took place. In this report we review the programme of the second day, addressing the educational mission and attitude.
The first part of the morning was dedicated to making decisions with the GAIA YES! team on the current state of the curriculum. We decided to include a historical perspective on how the concept of sustainability education evolved and will evolve in the coming years. We also discussed a possible fifth dimension Indigenous Knowledge, referring to the historical ways of being and learning with the land. This was followed by considerations on renaming it History or Living with the land or on simply adding it as a chapter to the Worldview Dimension.
To bridge the Curriculum and the Teacher Guide there will be a Curriculum Companion with downloadable lesson materials to be used in classes or in project work. In these downloads the Sustainable Development Goals, the national education goals and the five dimensions are integrated and presented through the three layers of learning Head, Hands and Heart.
An Education That Reconnects
The rest of the morning was meant for team building and mission finding through exercises of The Work That Reconnects. Despite our different cultural contexts, we recognised many similarities in our education experience. We mainly remember the environment we learn in as a set of values and we feel how big its impact was and still is on our life, on our role in community and in society. Design skills and guidelines for the learning environment will therefore be addressed in the teacher guide. Research skills are of course valuable for life long learning.
By sharing what we love about our work in education, we definitely connected on a deeper level!
What do you love about your work in education?
TED Talk on EcoLyceum
In the afternoon Menny Vellener, the rector of Boerhaave, gave a presentation on how the learning concept of EcoLyceum took shape in his school. This is a story of how beautiful things can unfold when you involve teachers and pupils without management interference. Here an ESD Learning Route was organically designed in a cocreated process.
It all started with a teacher-mentor looking for a way to challenge twenty five smart kids of fourteen years old. He decided to let these pupils participate in a conference – Cleantech Center – with adults and CEO´s and asked them to present their findings. The kids got so enthusiast about Robert Swan, a pole explorer engaged in keeping Antarctica free of garbage, that the passionate teacher expanded the project to a hundred kids of twelve, thirteen and fourteen years old. The keynote speaker this time was Richard Dunn, head of a sustainable school in London. As enthusiasm often is contagious, the two keynote speakers, Robert and Richard, were both impressed by the presentations of the kids. First Robert Swan invited some kids on a three week adventure in Antarctica. Then Richard Dunn invited a couple of children on a retreat camp in the Mont Blanc to explore personal deep topics. Later Richard invited the Dutch pupils to his school in London.
Back in the Netherlands the kids began to dream of integrating sustainability in their school. To design the EcoLyceum Learning Route a World Café was organised with parents, pupils, teachers, local companies and local governments. This resulted in a programme for excellent pupils with good grades. These children do the whole school curriculum in four days a week. They have one day a week for project based learning in cross curricular projects which cover the four dimensions of sustainability: the cultural, ecological, economic and the social dimension. Learning happens inside the school, or outside in companies, in social and in cultural institutions and is mainly fostered by coaching. The next phase for the EcoLyceum is to connect to other ecoschools.
Can you imagine a school where teachers ask the questions and where pupils take the role of teachers?
Are you interested in getting in touch with the EcoLyceum? Please feel free to contact email@example.com. For other ecoschools, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Pupils on EcoLyceum
The day ended with pupils presenting the EcoLyceum project and what they love about it. They love that they can propose projects to the teachers. They like working with their hands, prototyping and experimenting, getting to do a variety of activities, going on excursions and being more creative. What they need more of are clear instructions, more collaboration and cooperation skills, craftsmanship skills, more hope and even more creativity.
Well, don´t we all? Do you recognise these likes and needs in youngsters too?
Curious about GAIA YES! – Youth Education for Sustainability? Follow us on social media. We are Gaia Education UK, Tallinn University, Gaia Nederland, Permacultura Mediterránea Mallorca and Gaia Kool Estonia.