Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Education for Sustainable Development @ ISKL

Parents may or may not recognize how much time and energy are spent developing curriculum, ensuring that what we do at ISKL provides an exceptional education for our students and that all we do and say moves in unison with our school's mission statement. With regard to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) we focus on ensuring that what we are teaching our students is realistic, valuable and provides the understanding, skills, values and attitudes to embrace the future. In that light, last years Leadership Council for Sustainability spent a good deal of time working on a new foundation that would guide our ESD curriculum.

The new ESD diagram is based on the UNESCO dimensions of sustainable development. It identifies four main components - Ecological, Social, Economic and Political sustainability. - as the building blocks for sustainable communities.  But what really makes this an integrated educational platform is the dynamic interaction of the different dimensions, particularly as they relate to the global issues found encircling the four main dimensions. 

This diagram also provides a visual representation of our ESD curriculum. Standards have been developed and benchmarks are a priority for this year. The ESD Standards are the following:

Ecological Sustainability
Students recognize the importance of protecting the environment and the role of individuals, communities and governments in doing so.

Social Sustainability
Students understand that personal, social and cultural well-being are important elements of sustainable development.

Economic Sustainability
Students recognize the benefits and challenges of economic development (growth) as well as implications on ecological, social and political systems.

Political Sustainability
Students understand the function of individuals, governments and other organizations in promoting sustainable development. 

As students work toward these standards throughout our curriculum they will recognize the dynamic interaction between the different dimensions, the challenges and opportunities provided by this interconnectedness as well as the need to develop personal leadership capacity to ensure that sustainable development is at the forefront of our journey to the future.  Key in this is the fundamental recognition that balance is important, that things are connected and that each of us - children and adults alike - have a capacity to make a positive contribution to our community and the world.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Guides Us

On the Sustainable ISKL website ( one can click on a link to "What Guides Us". It was originally simply a vision statement, but it has grown along side our school's sustainable ethic. Part and parcel with sustainability education - what we call Education for Sustainable Development (or ESD) - is a recognition of the interconnectedness of different dimensions of sustainability and a realization that a sustainable present and, indeed, a future, is something that provides many opportunities for our community. 

The beginning of the year - right now - is perhaps the perfect time to share our new Green Vision Statement with our community:

“At ISKL educating for sustainability, nurturing nature and helping others are essential in the construction of a sustainable future; one that involves a balanced interaction with nature, engagement in stewardship for the Earth and it’s people, adapting to ecological limits and embracing the opportunities offered by a sustainable world.”

The statement itself took a good deal of time to develop, largely because it required the input of teachers, administrators and, most importantly, students. If one looks closely he/she can see a smidgeon of ISKL's Eco Code (Eco Schools), a style of our school's vision statement and a few statements that highlight what we hope our students to imbibe. Though often not written in standards and benchmarks, three key points shine through:
  1. Balanced interaction with nature is essential,
  2. Engaging in making positive change for both the Earth and the people who call it home is part of an exceptional community, and
  3. Tomorrow holds a world of opportunities
The statement will guide us as we move forward through this year and those to follow. It whispers of tall orders and difficult challenges but, perhaps more importantly, it confidently speaks of exceptional people doing exceptional things on an exceptional planet. That is some education, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

...And We're Back!

Welcome to 2014-15!  Whether new or returning, there is something warm and wonderful about ISKL. As ISKL's Sustainability & Service Learning Coordinator it comes to me to ensure that the word is out about things "green" on our campuses and programs. This academic year is not about building new sustainable campuses just yet. It's about ensuring that sustainability are part of the vocabulary, part of the manner by which things are done here. In some cases the conversations are difficult and in some cases they just pour out but the need is there to move ahead with creating opportunities for our students and community. 
This year is about putting the leadership in the hands of students and making students leaders of their own circumstance and community. It'a about empowerment and engagement. It's about making difficult decisions. It's about  recognizing both the limitations and the opportunities of a green economy, thinking and future. The sky is the limit, and we intend to use the opportunity that provides us to move in a sustainable direction. 
Apart from an increased presence and hard work, we hope to focus on the following things this year:
  • Increasing leadership capacity in our students and organizations such as service teams and clubs, the Green Council and Student Council including 
    • leading in collaborative projects with other schools and local organizations
    • generating a connection between sustainability and learning spaces on both campuses
  • Increasing leadership capacity in our teaching and administrative staff by providing professional development opportunities
  • Working on projects that support our efforts to maintain the Eco-Schools Green Flag (this is an assessment year, after all!)
  • The continued development of ESD benchmarks in our curriculum
  • Minimizing landfill waste and maximizing recycling, composting and appropriate disposal of chemical and toxic waste
  • Infusing the service learning process at all divisions 
  • Continue efforts to reduce energy, water and air miles
  • Continue assisting in the design and building of a new sustainable campus
  • Creating a five-year strategic plan for Sustainability & Service Learning
So what are you waiting for?  We might as well start now?  Join the composting program! Bring in your recyclables at the first monthly Community Recycling tomorrow!  Have your child eat a home-made, nutritious lunch. Car pool. Every decision is an opportunity!  Have a wonderful year, all of you!