… on education for sustainability with guest author Dr Sue Elliott

As an early childhood practitioner, researcher and author, Dr Sue Elliott from the University of New England has worked on sustainability practices within Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) for more than 25 years. This week, spend a minute with Dr Sue Elliott and unpack the theory behind sustainability…
As Kermit the frog said, ‘it ain’t easy being green!’
1. What do we mean by sustainability?

Is it simply about maintaining or keeping something going, similar to a bank balance?

The concept of sustainability is complex and often misunderstood.
Working towards sustainability is about a restorative and generative process for the earth’s systems, and everyone can participate. In the face of global climate change the imperative is to understand the various dimensions of sustainability: economic, natural, social and political. Keeping things going as usual is no longer an option if we value children’s present options and long-term futures.

Education for Sustainability (EfS) is about change: change in the ways all species co-habit on Earth.

Change can be difficult, but as early childhood educators the best interests of children—both their current options and their futures—are foremost in our daily roles. As educators, we need to understand
why change is urgently needed and how we can advocate and act for sustainable futures for all.
2. Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (EfS)

EfS is about transformative change at many levels:
  • our thinking
  • our ways of being
  • our ways of acting to regenerate the Earth.
Many educators readily engage in the tangible aspects of EfS in early childhood services, such as establishing compost bins, recycling, and growing produce. But there are deeper layers in thinking and being that can be explored with children through daily pedagogical practices.

ECA suggests exploring further with:
3. Rethinking our theoretical frames

Engaging in pedagogical change should be underpinned by rethinking the theoretical frames that inform our daily roles with children. Currently, human-centred perspectives (anthropocentric) predominate in our socio-cultural theories are evident in policy documents such as the Early Years Learning Framework (DEEWR, 2009) and National Quality Standard (ACECQA, 2018).
While these frameworks underpin our work with children, we can be eclectic in seeking additional, broader frameworks to complement and extend upon national frameworks and regulations. There are some interesting emerging contemporary ideas that might provoke deeper shifts towards enacting global sustainability with children. 
4. Examining UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals (2017)

A useful internationally ratified guiding document for EfS is UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals (2017). The document examines 17 goals across a broad range of areas, including energy, water, health, industry, cities, and education. It reflects the complexities of sustainable development and its multiple dimensions. The goals inform a global transformative agenda to be achieved by 2030.

There are compelling intersections between issues such as rights, environment and poverty, none can be addressed in isolation or ignored when smaller countries are impacting the Earth significantly more than major countries.
Young children are both current and future citizens with already existing capabilities to shape sustainable societies. Investments to build their awareness, values, knowledge and capacity for sustainable development will serve to set the world on more sustainable pathways now and into the future (UNESCO, 2014, p.78).’

ECA suggests exploring further with:
Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). (2018). Guide to the National Quality Framework. Sydney, NSW: ACECQA.
 Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2009). Being, Belonging and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.
UNESCO (2014). Shaping the future we want: UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) Final Report. Paris: UNESCO.  
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.