Saturday, May 3, 2014

What Sets ESD Apart?

Earth Week came and went with the requisite discussions, keynote speakers, outings to green areas, expeditions in the wild, earth hours and water savings. There were conversations aplenty and there was a positive buzz, particularly at Melawati. Behind the scenes there were similar conversations concerning things like our Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) standards and benchmarks review. 

When ISKL created the ESD standards and benchmarks in 2010 they were based around eight UNESCO themes (e.g. water). Over the years these themes have become 11 and we hove found that ISKL would benefit from more "conceptual" ESD standards. 

A review of current departmental standards indicated that though many of departmental standards are excellent at a departmental level and sometimes include sustainability-related topics (e.g. gender equity, ecology) they lack the breadth that characterises ESD. 

ESD standards stand out from departmental standards in four distinct ways (either one or more can apply to a standard or benchmark):
  1. They foster a sense of connection/belonging to the natural world. 
  2. They focus on the interconnectedness of the different dimensions of sustainable development. 
  3. They emphasise systems thinking. 
  4. They emphasise inventing and affecting the future.
Certainly asking students to develop the knowledge and skills with regard to the items above is a tall order. It implies students ready to analyse and solve the world's issues. It implies an understanding of one thing affecting the other and an ability to project into the future. It implies active citizenship in a global world. It further assumes that, in order to perform these skills, students need to be adept at creative thinking, constructive collaboration, effective communication, living ethically and reasoning critically.  

Of course these are essentially the building blocks of success, both for individuals and for a collectively engaged world citizenry And all these, together, give us the tools to move in the direction we strive for: A sustainable future and, as we move toward it, an increasingly sustainable present.

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