Education is Sustainability


I’ve already posted one children’s story about ‘commoning’ which has been used to teach children about taking responsibility for what’s around us and doing ‘our part’, and the more I think about it, the more I believe that it’s so vital to reach children and teach them about the concerns of the world and more importantly, what to do to stop/reduce/or improve it. I’ve found a couple more examples of creative ways to reach today’s youth through the media: Plastic State of Mind and Dr. Seuss: The Lorax (‘Plastic state of mind’ is a parody off of ‘Empire State of Mind’ by Jay-Z and advocates the ban of one-time-use plastic bags, and ‘The Lorax’ is a film based on Dr. Seuss’ book in which he creates a fictitious city in the future which is essentially made of plastic and no longer has trees causing mass amounts of pollution and the creation of a factory selling ‘bottled air’. But there’s one boy who leads a revolution against the ‘corporation’ and trees are once again planted and the city is restored.)

Why do I find these cases important? For two reasons: First,creative measures such as parodies based on ‘hip’ songs, or movies with an underlying message are very powerful ways to communicate a message or moral, especially to children who’s attention span seems to be shortening with each generation.

Second; I feel that (proper) education is sustainability, and sustainability is education. If you want a community or message to be sustainable, then you need to account for a means of reproduction, in this case: our youth. They are not only the ones inheriting what we have left of the world, but the one’s sustaining and advancing systems we have put in place. If they don’t understand or care about what we fought for and why, then there was no point in doing it in the first place, was there?


4 Responses to “Education is Sustainability”

  1. sdiederichs Says:

    I totally agree with you. Education is sustainability and the only way forward. A NGO I support, Right To Play, has found out that children are able to get important health messages to their parents and their community. Once the kids understand why a health measure is important and how it could save lives, not only do they adopt it, but they bring this message to their home. We have to teach and sensitize our kids about the environmental problems our world is facing and it can be really fun. I had a friend who used to collect rubbish in the street when he’d see some and, at weekends, he would build sculptures and toys with his children with it. His kids loved it and became very sensitive to pollution. I also saw on the news this French woman who lives in the States and who has a zero waste house ( and her kids love it. I think that one of the problems is that we don’t look around anymore and see what a truly beautiful place the earth is. We take it for granted and don’t respect it. I am not sure how many sustainable systems we have put in place in the last 30 years… I would say that we are destroying our planet faster than ever before, and if I have one wish, it is that our children will not treat the earth as badly as we did.

  2. bay222013 Says:

    Educating children about sustainability is important indeed. We have a local proverb that when a stranger want to know the truth about his host village, he should ask a child. This is because children minds are pure and naive, with the except of few of course. Therefore teaching them about the environment, health, taking responsibilities are a way forward for a better future for everyone. I watched a video about primary health program in Uganda where the health workers educate school children about causes of diarrhoael diseases with the hope that children will educate parents. The children then organised to put a structure round the village well, their common water source that was contaminated as people waded in to fetch water. A lot of them also stated boiling their drinking water, washing hands after using the toilet etc.

  3. u0953238 Says:

    Education is like a key to opportunities. The first key will open the next level or door. The education we got from our parents afforded us the opportunity of the next level of formal education.The achieved key in primary education opened the proceeding door and today it seems most of us are now aiming for the master key. We can comprehend that education can sustain the individual.

  4. peterezekiel Says:

    Education is sustainability. I agree wholeheartedly. Your post has triggered two related lines of thought for me.

    Firstly, issues of sustainability, inequality and many more should be mainstreamed. Sustainability and protecting our habitat should not sit as a separate course or a single class at the end of term, but should be completely integrated. The current generations have to deal with these challenges already. The next generations will have to do so to a greater extent. It doesn’t make sense to single sustainability and highlight it as something special, as this can create the idea that it is an optional consideration.

    The key to changing minds is to show how issues such as sustainability permeate every aspect of our lives. This should be built into education. When teaching history for example, showing how in history the industrial revolution in the UK led to an unsustainable demand for raw materials and labour which in turn drove the extraction of materials from the colonies and the slave trade should be integral. Design technology classes should encourage students to think about resources, about availability and the human/social costs as well as the financial to their products.

    My second line of thought perhaps puts in place barriers to truly integrating sustainability into education systems. And this is that education so often seeks only to move children through the system, giving them the skills to become successfully employed and “fit” into the world of work without encouraging thought.

    Ivan Illich wrote about this phenomenon in his 1971 book Deschooling Society. But since the global financial crisis has hit Europe, I have seen more and more rhetoric around education that supports his stance. Governments discuss education in terms of the links to employment, and thus to the economy and growth. Little space is left, if any, for thinking about what is learned and considering the alternatives, or for considering the systems and society we live in.

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