Education for sustainability

Education for Sustainability
Dr Hamish Ross
Moray House School of Education
University of Edinburgh
• EcoSchools in Scotland
• Critical pedagogy
• The globalisation of education policy
• Professional Recognition
• Conclusions?
Scottish Schools
Scottish population
School children
Primary schools
Secondary schools
Changing curriculum
EcoSchools Scotland
• Whole school action for the environment
• Environmental management tool
• Learning resource
• Recognized award scheme
Learning resource
I can get all areas of the curriculum in there. All their
learning, for school, you know we can get literacy,
maths, health and wellbeing, there’s all sorts. I can use it
– [pause] – If you can use that [SDE project] for a
writing lesson, or whatever, that’s going to be far more
meaningful to them than just plucking a topic out of mid
air and saying ‘right let’s write an essay or a story on
such and such’, whereas if it’s something they’ve gone
out and experienced, you know, why not just use that?
To me it’s a no-brainer.
(Primary school headteacher, quoted in Ross, 2011)
Management tool
Weigh litter. Weigh the paper that’s recycled. And
graphs made for that weekly. (Primary schoolteacher,
quoted in Ross, 2011)
(Primary school headteacher, quoted in Ross, 2011)
Wider community
The children are taking the messages home about
recycling paper properly or gathering the plastic and
making sure that that’s taken to the recycling bank in the
village. They’re pressuring their parents. And we’ve ran
energy campaigns where again they’ve sent out
questionnaires beforehand about things that they maybe
did in the house. Then they did their campaign – they
wrote leaflets they wrote flyers, posters. We then went
through the same process about six months later and sent
out another questionnaire to see if they had changed their
ways. A lot of them had.
(Primary schoolteacher, quoted in Ross, 2011)
Remarkable growth
“The level of participation in the Eco-Schools
programme in Scotland is remarkable, and a credit to
schools and pupils who are taking an increasing interest
in sustainable development issues. Scotland is one of the
leading countries in the world when it comes to EcoSchools awards …”
Derek A. Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland
[30 January 2012]
Remarkable growth
“participation in this scheme was adopted by the Scottish
Executive Education Department (SEED) as a
performance measure within the framework for school
improvement that relates to National Priority 4.2C
Values and Citizenship.”
(Pirrie et al., 2006)
• Major period of growth 2002, -3, -4
• Now 10 staff supporting the programme Scotland-wide
NPM in EcoSchools
• SEED performance measure
• Scotland is one of the leading countries in the world
• Questionnaire to see if they had changed their ways
• Graphs made for that weekly
• Recognized award scheme
• To me it’s a no-brainer
New Public Management in policy and pedagogy?
(a)the setting and meeting of targets
(b)the efficiency of competition
(c)The normalisation of these
Critical pedagogy
• progressive, neo-Marxist pedagogy
• critical realism
• multiple ‘layers’ of reality
• some layer of personal experience
• some layer of structural forces (hidden)
• potential false consciousness between them
• ‘critical’ reflection leads to emancipation
• Paulo Freire, Henri Giroux, Peter McLaren
• To what extent does EcoSchools help pupils interrogate
the underlying structures that condition our behaviour in
the world?
• the authorative allocation of values
• affected by extant discourses or ‘social imaginaries’
• also defines contexts, problems & promotes
• also increasingly mediatized
• no longer entirely national (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010)
• travelling and embedded (Ozga, 2008)
Professional recognition
• General Teaching Council for Scotland (professional body)
• Policy: teachers to be recognized for specialist expertise
• in e.g. dyslexia, mathematics, education for sustainability
• Aims: to focus and reward professional learning
•Purpose (travelling): modernize teaching profession
• cf Ingvarson (2010) and Beck (2010), Collinson et al. (2009)
•Purpose (embedded): “activist teaching professional”
• Murray & Hamilton (2009) referring to Sachs (2003)
Travelling policy
• There are ‘global’ elements in education policy
• This is the result of a set of communication processes
• Referred to (not reified) as ‘globalisation’
• Globalisation is also as social imaginary
• Social imaginaries have effects on policy too
• Neoliberal social imaginary of globalisation
• economic growth the object of globalisation
• market-based efficiency
• individualism (consumption and responsibility)
• the economic concept of human capital
• open borders
• small state (re-evaluated 2001 and 2008?)
• New Public Management
OECD example
• Prior to mid-1990s a place to share educational ideas
• Since the mid-1990s a neoliberal policy agenda
• International assessments of countries’ education outcomes
• League tables of performance
• Market-oriented reform recommendations
• Strong connection between economic and education policy
• To result in global economic efficiency
• New Public Management advocate
• GTCS Professional Recognition seen in this light?
• Innovation and competition demands lifelong learning
OECD Influence
Argues that pupil measurable attainment should not be
the only objective of transforming the teaching
profession, but offers little rationale other than
references to the OECD as defining what is “good” in
OECD Influence
Critique of NCLB by L. Darling-Hammond e.g. (2007)
Offers critique of NCLB
policy, that the law has misidentified the problem by
creating incentives and
sanctions, when what is
required is resources. This is
the ‘No Child Left Untested’
But nonetheless refers in argument to the low standing of
the USA in international league tables of education
UNESCO example
• Rio Summit, Agenda 21, Johannesburg Summit
• Jickling and Wals describe ESD:
• Environmental education is corporatised and marketised
• Education policy influenced by global bodies (e.g. WTO)
• (Neoliberal) globalisation presented as inevitable
• Something is lost in transition from EE to ESD
• Mannion et al (2011) or Priestly et al (2010)
• Top-down policy is mis-educative (transmissive not critical)
• New Public Management
SD Summit 2002
“The focus of this international gathering, instead, seems
to have been on how to promote education for
sustainable development, and how to set standards,
benchmarks, and control mechanisms to confidently
assess progress towards its realization. Rather than
discussing and exposing underlying ideologies, values,
and worldviews, the general consensus at the World
Summit on Sustainable Development, and the many
meetings that were organized in its slipstream, seemed to
be that educators have passed the reflective stage, and
that they must roll up their sleeves and start
implementing” (Jickling & Wals, 2008)
Professional recognition
Ross (2011) spoke to 8 Scottish teachers who had received
recognition for sustainability education:
• All were EcoSchools coordinators (generalisable)
• In general an a priori commitment to their profession
• A belief in on-going learning for improvement
• GTCS ‘recognition’ had some purchase in the labour market
• cf Clotfelter et al. (2007) & Scafidi et al. (2005) for US view
• Tendency to move on rather than reflect on past work
• Evaluating effects of work on pupils complex/uncertain
• Self-selected sample
EcoSchools Scotland
• Post-Rio Summit
• Local Agenda 21 education chapter had large Scottish input
• Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)
• EcoSchools is one of its programmes
• Funding from Toyota, HSBC, Wrigleys, …
• Each country has a license-holder (KSB in Scotland)
• Levies paid to FEE (£16,000 per year for Scotland)
• Current Scottish government funded £1.3 million over 3 yrs
• Countries without Gov. funding charge schools
• Scottish operation had some money from HSBC
• Scottish preference to avoid Wrigleys
A neatly tied story
EcoSchools & the GTCS
• Initiating GTCS recognition in education for sustainability
• EcoSchools Scotland suggest to GTCS that they create this category
• GTCS about to do the same with the Red Cross
• Exploiting GTCS recognition in education for sustainability
• EcoSchools Scotland uses its network to advertise availability
• EcoSchools Scotland provides a model application form
• Potentially, then:
• A global programme run under New Public Management principles
• Part-sponsored by global corporates
• Where local and international NGOs draw on state funds
• To provide a fully accountable, targetted education programme
• That itself promotes auditing, targetting and measurement
• Instead of critical pedagogy?
Not so neatly tied
‘Travelling’ policy ‘embedded’
• EcoSchools Scotland avoids some sponsors
• EcoSchools Scotland selective ‘benefits of EcoSchools’
• FEE also suggests financial savings and international contacts
• Are these benefits targetted at ‘global south’ states?
• Only 50 teachers have applied to GTCS for ESD recognition
• Only 8 of them were interested in talking about it
• And these are perhaps the ‘cutting edge’, ‘forward-looking’ types
• The Professional Recognition programme ‘sells’ poorly
• EcoSchools seems to need state support here
• Teachers ‘use’ programmes for other ends
• Curriculum has always been contested
• Learners have autonomy too
No easy conclusion
There is a concern that education policy is affected by a
neoliberal ideology of globalisation, which can be widely
propagated by processes of globalisation. NGOs are not by
definition outside of this imaginary.
New Public Management, competition, the idea of human
capital and of economic growth seem central to this and might
be antithetical to the kinds of values that perhaps underpin an
education for sustainability.
ut, at least in the global north, while this imaginary might
inform state policy, states and teachers and learners do have
influence over education policy and autonomy in education
systems can exist.
Collinson, V., Kozina, E., Lin, Y.-hao K., & Ling, L. (2009) Professional development for teachers: a world of change.
European Journal of Teacher Education, 32(1), 3-19.
Darling-hammond, L. (2007). Evaluating “No Child Left Behind.” The Nation, (May 21), 11-18.
Donaldson, G. (2010) Teaching Scotland's future. Report of a review of teacher education in Scotland, (Edinburgh, Scottish
Ingvarson, L. (2010) Recognising accomplished teachers in Australia: Where have we been? Australian Journal of Education,
54(1), 46-71.
Jickling, R. & Wals, A.E.J. (2008) Globalization and environmental education: looking beyond sustainable development,
Journal of Curriculum Studies, 40(1), 1-21
Murray, R. and Hamilton, T. (2009) Teacher Professionalism, Self Efficacy, Beliefs and Practices – and Public Recognition
Conference presentation at the UK Initial Teacher Education SDE/GC Network Conference, London South Bank University
Ozga, J. (2000) Policy research in educational settings, (Buckingham, Open University Press)
Sachs, J. (2003) The activist teaching profession (Buckingham, Open University Press)
Scafidi, B., Sjoquist, D. L., & Stinebrickner, T. R. (2005). Race, Poverty, and Teacher Mobility. Social Science Research.
PIrrie, A.,Elliot, D., Mcconnell, F., Wilkinson, J. E. (2006) Evaluation of Eco Schools Scotland. SCRE Research Report No
Rizvi, F. & Lingard, B. (2010) Globalizing Education Policy, (London, Routledge)
Ross, H. (2011) Sustaining the Impact: Exploring Professional Recognition for Teachers of Sustainable Development
Education – Project Report, (Edinburgh, WWF Scotland & GTCS) [30 January 2012] [30 January 2012]