Sunday 2 October 2016

MindLab post 3

He hono tangata e kore e motu; ka pā he taura waka e motu (Material bonds can be broken; but human bonds endure)

My next post is an issue facing everyone, not just education - sustainability, as identified by CORE as one of their ten trends for 2016. It was also identified in the NZ Curriculum document (MoE, 2007) as a value that we expect a typical New Zealand student to have once they complete their education.

Sustainability has been a keystone of my life, having been involved in many environmental projects. I was first introduced to environmentalist thinking and action by a lecturer at tertiary college who showed me what it means to be an activist for the planet, something I embraced and continue to embrace.
I am a Science educator, but I also have a strong interest in protecting the environment and encouraging students to consider the consequences of their actions on the planet. One of my (minor) actions was creating the Google+ community for NZ EfS teachers.  I believe sustainability to be an interest that crosses all curricular boundaries and can be incorporated into most areas of learning. Nonetheless, Education for Sustainability (EfS) is now a Science subject.

One of the main issues discussed in relation to sustainability is the effect of climate change on the planet (or more specifically anthropogenic climate change), particularly within the Pacific region where Kiribati and Tuvalu are approaching the point of disappearing under the waves due to rising sea levels (Morton, 2016).

Other issues that are also equally important are the uses of resources closer to home, such as depletion of fish stocks and pollution of our waterways by industry and agriculture. These are issues that can be discussed with classes of students. CORE recommend that students are also shown how to take action over issues; something I have long promoted and continue to promote, both in the classroom and outside of it. 

This diagram shows what the goals of EfS are, and show the inter - connectedness of society as well as education in sustainability. 
CORE have also identified that as a result of the access to technology that students now have, they are better able to connect with other students around the world or source information about issues. Part of the role of the teacher, therefore, could be to help students navigate this huge wealth of sometimes not too truthful information. The New Zealand government and various powerfully rich mining companies would have us believe that fracking is not likely to cause any issues around our shores. As Tui beer would say, Yeah, Right.
As educators, we can encourage students to become more active for the planet. More schools should be encouraging students to focus on the small stuff and  see how this feeds into the big stuff. 

Currently, EfS is not as prominent in the NZC as many educators would like, and is not even a compulsory strand, rather a recommendation (Eames, Cowie and Bolstad, 2008). There is a wealth of information available to all teachers, to assist in the implementation of sustainability education, especially in New Zealand where we have resources and guidelines available through TKI. The day will come when all educators play a part in educating students about the environment and sustainability, but for the moment I am happy to be part of the vanguard!


Eames, C., Cowie, B., & Bolstad, R. (2008). An evaluation of characteristics of environmental education practice in New Zealand schools. Environmental Education Research, 14(1), 

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum for English-medium teaching and learning in years 1–13. Wellington: Learning Media.

Morton, J. (2016). Pacific nations desperate for climate action - Climate Change - NZ Herald News. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from

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