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Heila Lotz-Sisitka: Creating a Sustainable Society
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Heila Lotz-Sisitka: Creating a Sustainable Society


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  • Thomas Popkewitz has provided an outstanding review of the relationship between education and the rise of modernity and industrial society i.e. how education developed primarily in the service of the industrial revolution and to further the modernist project. This led to the massification of education, and to an expansion of technicist models of learning. These were later critiqued for being exclusionary, and for being narrow. With the emergence of the human rights movement came a concern for inclusion .. Including women and marginalised in the education system. Out of this concern, carried to the so called developing world by development organisations and global institutions came the Education for All movement, which is slowly succeeding in getting more children in to schools, but which is aslo failing to provide for a high quality education.
  • Poor countries have a sustainable footprint but an inadequate HDI. Rich countries have a good HDI but to big footprints.. Albania …
  • And so Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like introduce you to this place – it is the place where we all teach, and scientists today are telling us that it is a ‘polycrisis’ place. By this they mean that there are a set of mutually re-inforcing nested crises that are influencing the way things are today. These cannot be reduced to say the problem of the world economy, or to natural resource limits, or to population growth, because cause effect relations are uncertain, and mutate from context to context.
  • There are, however, as this scientist has shown, key ‘intersections’ that we need to give attention to: global warming, ecosystem breakdown, resource depletion, unsustainable economic systems, poverty and urbanisation. I would, however, not like to dwell on this depressing state of affairs, but rather move on to a discussion of where we teach and what we are trying to do in response to this situation.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Ibis Seminar, Copenhagen 2009 Can we create a sustainable society through education? - individual and society - Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Rhodes University, South Africa
    • 2. Makana Municipality
    • 3. A broad history of [changing] education purposes
      • Education and the industrial revolution and the modernisation process (17 th -21 st century): Education for economic development
      • Education and the expansion of democracy and human rights (19 th- 21 st century): Education for All
      • Education in an era where lifestyles are outstripping the earth’s carrying capacity and its ability to provide for equitable needs/wants and to store waste (late 20 th / 21 st century): Education for Sustainable Development
    • 4. What are we aiming at when we talk about a sustainable society? >Equity >Prosperity Sharing >Ecological Integrity
    • 5. Ecological Footprint (gha per person) HDI EDUCATION ? Sustainable development creates different challenges in different places
    • 6. This is where we all teach and learn … do we have a sustainable society/ies in this place?
    • 7. Source: Elmqvist, 2008 Human progress and inequality 20/80 dilemma Ecosystems 60 % loss dilemma Climate 550/450/350 dilemma Surprise 99/1 dilemma ” The Quadruple Squeeze” What does it mean for education?
    • 8. education of individuals? A politics of rights
    • 9. or education of communities? a politics of the common good?
    • 10. Individual vs society communitarian tyranny determinism rational man voluntarism Its all about individual choice and rights It’s the individual’s right to have what they want It’s the individuals fault Switch off the lights! You are causing climate change ! Its all about the group All choices are subordinate to the group authority / culture It’s society’s fault, individuals can do nothing to change the status quo It’s the fault of the system !
    • 11. Individuals-in-society
      • Individuals are shaped by society and culture, but they can act to change things …
      • Education can strengthen individuals abilities to choose and act for the common good
    • 12.
      • One understands ones life by looking at one’s actions within a story, a narrative (MacIntyre)
      • But narratives converge, and new stories, cultures and practices are created
      • Individuals-in-communities
      • Individuals-in-society
    • 13. two stories of individuals-in-society The water monitoring learners The waste monitoring learners
    • 14. Story 1: The water learners
      • Participatory
      • Socially critical
      • Deconstruction (they could research and identify and describe the problem)
      • But they got stuck … participation only went as far as describing and reporting the problem. After that they waited and waited and waited – they are still waiting
    • 15. Story 2: The waste learners
      • Participatory
      • Socially critical
      • Deconstruction (they could research and identify the problem)
      • Re-construction and re—imagination (they worked together and creatively with others on co-defined solutions) . They are not waiting around so much!
    • 16. Can practice centred education contribute to re-imagining a sustainable society? Dialogic …… an orchestrated interplay ……. a matter of co-production From Footprints to Hand prints Participation in seeking out creative alternatives …
    • 17. food gardening sequestering carbon eating healthy re-using waste biochar soil quality saving water Rob O’Donoghue Rhodes University Environmental Education and Sustainability Unit
    • 18.
      • The turn to practices seems to be tied to an interest in the ‘everyday’ and ‘life-world’ with those identified with practice theory being influenced by the interpretative or cultural turn in social theory
      • It focuses on everyday practices as being the source of intelligibility – Practice comes first, and knowledge of the world makes sense in relation to practices (new or old) i.e. give meaning
      • The field of practice is the place to investigate such phenomena such as agency, knowledge, language, ethics, power and science
    • 19.
      • Practice involves ‘engaged agency’ …
      • … understanding the human agent as engaged, as embedded in a culture, a form of life, a ‘world’ of involvements which ultimately is to understand the agent as embodied, as inextricably implicated in the lifeworld (Taylor, 1995, pp. 61-62)
      • Is this how we think of learners in our classrooms?
    • 20. an integrative concept for education
      • Practice brings together bodily and mental activity – it is purposive and rational, but also embodied and situated
      • Linkages:
        • 1) understandings of what is going on and what to say and do
        • 2) explicit rules, principles, precepts, and instructions - historical, cultural and material
        • 3) purposes, beliefs, emotions, values, visions, ends, emotions and moods
    • 21. Can we develop practice-centred learning to re-imagine and reconstruct our societies? – there are so many stories to be part of - Disrupting unsustainable practices and creating new more sustainable practices is our story – yours and mine … because we share a planet What do we share? What is different?
    • 22. Thank you Individuals-in-society, learning together how make choices, and how to build new, more equitable, sustainable practices can make a difference - we have seen that already - Education can contribute to a sustainable future - it is an important part of a bigger story of ongoing social change