Education & Sustainability

SDG Pyramid image sourced from https://www.socialconnectedness.org/celebrating-the-sdg-pyramid-to-happiness/

All across the globe educators whether they be teachers within school or parents at home are faced with the challenges of addressing the subject of sustainable development.  This in itself is difficult enough without the pressure of having to play catch up with the core curriculum subjects.

The reality is that we need to be mindful of the fact that many children are overwhelmed by the events of the last twelve months on a personal level and we have to equip them to deal with the change.  This involves breaking down the key topics within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into accessible and manageable bitesize chunks.  We need to empower the pupils of today to realise that positive change is achievable and that they will be the leaders and protagonists of this in the coming decades.

The challenge going forward is to make the subject enthralling for children and encourage them to further their knowledge through self-directed learning.  There is a need to create the universal banner of ‘One nation under Gaia’.  Allowing future generations to approach key issues on a global level not national level whilst at the same time, encouraging the ‘Act local, think Global’ philosophy.  We want young people to fall in love with their planet, not feel separate from it.

The intention is to let individual children’s gifts shine, not necessarily through traditional academic standards but through a recognition that everyone has a voice that needs to be expressed and heard.  A case of allowing “the unheard” a voice and in that process encouraging a culture of “sharing” instead of “competition”.

Each one of the SDGs presents the opportunity to weave multiple topics into the goal through a cross-curricular and thematic approach – Stressing the importance of unity not separation in these particularly divisive times.  It has the potential to create communities beyond borders and facilitate resource sharing across generations and class.

Tapping into ancient wisdom and indigenous people’s storytelling where each and every one of the planet’s inhabitants has its place.  Recent research into the so-called ‘Wood Wide Web’ shows us how separate species are reliant on each other to thrive and survive – The health of a diverse woodland is dependent on the mycorrhizal networks that link the different trees and bushes below the ground.  This is a fantastic example of how we as custodians can protect the earth’s spectacular biodiversity.

Recent developments in affordable and accessible technology has made the collection of real-time data possible.  The Mydx app and sensor linked to a Smartphone now allows individuals or communities to test for pesticides in the food they eat, analyse chemicals in the water they drink and test for toxins in the air they breathe.  This has the potential of transferring the process of reporting environmental issues to the world’s citizen scientists.

In my time as a Primary teacher, I have attended ‘Forest school’ courses and subsequently run a popular  ‘Eco-warrior club’.  This allowed the students to devise sustainable strategies that were adopted across all year groups.  Extra-curricular activities included a visit to a local landfill site (now educators can view as 360’ immersive videos) and linking in with local recycling initiatives including winning a £500 grant for the school to invest in sustainable practices.

Recently, during my time as an Education Specialist for the Dutch Ed-tech company called Prowise, we created and published a series of lessons on the Sustainable Development Goals.  You can find a Primary and Secondary education series of lessons that are available for anyone to use when broaching the goals.  Sign up for a free account to access them.  These lessons can additionally be downloaded as PDFs.

With regards to support for schools who’ve had to embrace the notion of distance learning –  Go-live services as a company is fully committed to CSR and has invested heavily in remote provisioning to reduce carbon footprint and have moved all their web presence to green servers.  They are looking at supporting teachers and students moving forward with consultations, resources and training.

Ramsay

March 2021

Additional links:

UN – Student resources

The world’s largest lesson

TeachSDGs

SDGs for kids

European association for international education

WWF Resources for the classroom

UNESCO Resources for educators

Global Goals Resource Collections

SDG Academy

Fresh partners

Edukid

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“tellus” is a Latin word meaning “Earth” e.g. Tellus Mater the ancient Roman Earth Mother Goddess

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