20 Feb Education for Sustainability – a 21st Century Approach!
We all know that the world and its resources are finite. I remember teaching environmental awareness in the 80’s and then “Education for Sustainability” came along in the late 90’s. Of course it features in most schools’ curricula today, but sadly there remain many people, organizations and governments today who are not making responsible choices for our planet or for humanity.
According to Dr. Josephine M. Kim, author, Harvard Graduate School of Education lecturer and expert on at-risk youth, we will have more people dying of depression and depression related illnesses in the future. Kim called on school leaders in November 2014 at the East Asia Regional Council of Schools EARCOS Leadership Conference ELC to take action to stem the alarming increase of youth suicide in our schools and universities. I have been wondering what we can do in schools to take up her call and I think I have found a solution!
I have been very fortunate to have learnt a new approach to Sustainability through Alan AtKisson, a man who has devoted 30 years trying to bring about global change. Atkisson, author and sustainability expert believes we could reach a population of 9, 10 or even 12 billion. He and his team work with organizations, governments and schools around the world urging people to think long term about how we will all live within the boundaries of our planet and share prosperity and the right to be healthy and happy with all nations.
I think it is fair to say we all agree that Education is the key to bringing about change and I have been excited to be a part of the change that the AtKisson Group, through Compass Schools, is creating. Compass Schools is a collaborative movement of teachers, school leaders, sustainability experts and volunteers using sustainability tools created by AtKisson and his team. The sustainability tools can be used to embed sustainability as a core mindset and value system in schools and educational systems.
The AtKisson Group believe that “graduates from schools in which sustainability is deeply understood and fully embraced will be instrumental in discovering how we can successfully decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, ensure socially equitable and just development for everyone, restore and regenerate vital life-supporting ecosystems, and reorient the global agenda from a primary focus on GDP to one that is focused on significantly improving overall human happiness and wellbeing.”
What I really like about this approach is that it adds to the environmental and green initiatives by combining a focus on Well-being, Economics and Society as well as Nature. It provides a ‘thinking tool’ or ‘lens’ for students and schools to bring about change at all levels of a school learning community through governance, operations, networks and partnerships, teaching and learning, and buildings and grounds. Having lead a school using the Compass Tool of Sustainability as a guiding theme in the establishment of a new Strategic Plan, watching students from K – 12 getting switched on to making wise decisions through engaging and motivating projects, training students and teachers as sustainability change agents and developing strands of well-being initiatives for students and teachers, I know it really works! It gives students a sense of purpose and the confidence that they can take action and make a difference in all spheres of their lives.
Using Compass Education at your school is a way to improve the well-being of our planet and it’s people. Compass Education offers School Sustainability Leadership Training to equip the entire learning community to effectively understand and act for sustainability. Why not give it a go? It’s a proactive and effective way to save our planet and stop depression-related illnesses infiltrating our population.
If you would like assistance with strategic planning or establishing yourself as a Compass School contact Maxine at Think Strategic for Schools. She holds an international education masters degree and has experience in Australian and international school leadership