Teaching for Sustainability, Social Justice, and Creativity: Learning “Organically” at the Sustainable Farm School

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Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Studies Association in Baltimore on November 2, 2013.

Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Studies Association in Baltimore on November 2, 2013.

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  • 1. Teaching for Sustainability, Social Justice, and Creativity: Learning “Organically” at the Sustainable Farm School Kurt Love, Ph.d. Central Connecticut State University
  • 2. C a p t a i n s o f I n d u s t r y Wa n t Docile Workers Neoliberal Agenda BIG BUSINESS CEO WITH H O U R LY W A G E AT $ 2 0 , 0 0 0 S U P E R W E A LT H Y WANT MINIMUM AND MEDIUM WAGE WORKERS TO DO THE WORK OF THEIR BUSINESSES M E D I A N H O U R LY W A G E AT P R I V AT E J O B S AT $24.05 ($41,000) CONTROL SCHOOLS
  • 3. Neoliberal Framework led us here & It is crumbling • Schools exist for creating workers (not leaders) • The super wealthy continue to control the discourse of schooling • Teachers are seen as ineffective, irrelevant, and hyper-intensified in order to conform • Call it what it is…hegemonically mystified social control and confused by altruism
  • 4. Ending this Paradigm • No longer aimed at creating workers, supply-side economics with endless consumption and waste…we simply cannot afford to do this • No longer driven by fear-based rhetoric, either. • Accountability • GDP • Global competition
  • 5. Shifting to a New Paradigm • “Love and Rage” become our primary actions • Driven by responsibility-oriented thinking • Sustainability • Diversity & Community-strengthening • Interconnection • Holism & Balance • Wellness • Peace & Conflict Mediation
  • 6. Raging and Loving Rage:
 “Rage is the form of love that anarchists embrace and enact to end oppression immediately and hopefully. Rage is used so that oppression can be stopped for just a moment, an hour, a day, or much longer just so that the rest of us can see that this possibility truly exists and better world is possible right now. Rage is deliberate, often organized, and premeditated with the purpose of short-circuiting entrenched thinking.” (Love, 2012, pg. 55)
  • 7. Raging and Loving Promethean & Epimethean Rage (referencing Kahn, 2009):
 “Anarchist practices are often Promethean, aimed overtly at a source of oppression to disrupt it…[Epimethean rage] in the sense of the afterthought might be seen less as about anger or proactive (or reactive) actions, but more about cultivating interconnections within community grounded in a pas-sion for nurturance, sustainability, and peace. To give unconditionally creates no hierarchy, elitism, or domination of one group over another.” (Love, 2012, p. 56) !
  • 8. Raging and Loving Love:
 “The kind of love that is often described in anarchist theory is a love based on uncorrupted, pure freedom. In other words, love is demonstrated through two core anarchist principles of freedom of individuals and freedom of small communal, mutualistic groups, because to live in an anarchistic society requires that we deeply love one another while honoring our differences, approaches, ways of living, cultures, spiritualities, and sexualities. Thus, we are evolving toward a state of both freedom and peaceful mutualism, and love is located, if not defined, in the practices of mutualism and freedom of the individual.” (Love, 2012, p. 58) !
  • 9. Raging and Loving Love/Rage:
 “Rage (actions that demonstrate the possibility of removing injustice from a society right now) is inextricably coupled with love (the interwoven fully liberated self and community). Love/rage is the collective movement of anarchy.” (Love, 2012, p. 61) !
  • 10. A Pedagogy of Love/Rage The Sustainable Farm School is at its core anarchistic. Comprised of homeschoolers and public school “defectors” A curriculum of possibilities based on local, empowered parents, students and instructors (mostly community visionaries) Pedagogical approaches do not aim for “right” answers rooted in positivism and pragmatism, but rather aim for understanding and exploring mindsets and practices that might bring us closer to cultural and ecological peace and sustainability
  • 11. Waldorf “Inspired” Rudolf Steiner created the first school for the workers of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919 (after the the destruction of WWI) Learners as moral and spiritual beings Development of the moral and spiritual self would give rise to a safer, more peaceful society Waldorf education emphasizes reflective connections between self, community, and nature
  • 12. Waldorf Education at SFS Teachers are encouraged to explore spirituality as part of their courses. Spirituality is rooted culturally and explored in mythologies, literature, energy work, and in connection with food and health Explore creative connections with nature in preschool (story-telling, songs, art, food)
  • 13. EcoJustice Critical examination of modernity, underpinnings of anthropocentrism, root metaphors, and mindsets that uncritically advance Western Industrial Culture, and Western Colonization
  • 14. EcoJustice At SFS Later years: Explore ecojustice issues in community Envision a sustainable, peaceful society Critically examine and work towards developing and implementing eco-democratic solutions that could move us towards sustainable, peaceful societies
  • 15. Sustainable Farm School: A Pedagogy of the Hearth Little Sprouts (3-5) Saplings (5-7) Explorers (7-10) Visionaries (10-13) Solutionaries (13-18) After School (13-18)
  • 16. Sustainable Farm School: A Pedagogy of the Hearth Little Sprouts (3-5) The Little Sprouts’ morning begins with farm chores and creative free play. Circle time involves music, verse, and movement. They learn to care for the natural world by exploring local plants and wildlife and working in their own garden. In this stage, the curriculum is a gentle exposure to understanding our relationships with each other and the earth with authentic, natural contexts for learning that enhance imaginations and build excitement for learning. The instructor’s goals are to provide a climate for exploration, cooperation, and creativity. This is a 2.5 hour program that meets up to 5 days/ week.
  • 17. Sustainable Farm School: A Pedagogy of the Hearth Saplings (5-7) A supportive environment for the introduction of academic concepts such as reading, writing, science, math, and art often in the context of gardening and farming when appropriate. Here, students begin to investigate patterns and functions in nature, explore introductory reading and writing skills, use mathematics as a way to understand and observe patterns and relationships, and use art as a medium for exploration of and integration with these introductory academic skills. The Saplings instructor’s goals are to provide a supportive and curious environment with some self-guided, scaffolded learning experiences that lay a strong foundation for independence and empowered interdependence and a genuine excitement for lifelong learning.
  • 18. Sustainable Farm School: A Pedagogy of the Hearth Explorers (7-10) Students explore the relationships of their content area classes with relationships to the real world, focusing especially on empowerment. Gardening and farming experiences remain present, and act as an important intellectual and aesthetic “anchor” for the curriculum at this stage. T do so, instructors o continuously provide learning experiences that involve students in connecting academic skills with real world possibilities and first-hand experiences that create a real sense of confidence with abilities to work with others. The curriculum is deeply contextualized to allow for meaningful work that has a purpose because it is seen immediately in our communities.!
  • 19. Sustainable Farm School: A Pedagogy of the Hearth Visionaries (10-13) Support students in developing their visions of communities of sustainability and wellness. As students become more comfortable with critical issues that affect sustainability and wellness within these communities (local, as well as global), they are encouraged to examine potential solutions. Develop ever-growing visions of healthy, happy communities that are working to become more and more sustainable. There is an increased focus on academic subjects within real world, first-hand learning contexts such as farms, gardens, and democratic experiences with local municipalities.
  • 20. Sustainable Farm School: A Pedagogy of the Hearth Solutionaries (13-18) Students build their visions so that they can develop skills and strategies for solutions that are sustainable, peaceful, and democratic. Students intensify their work in academics like literature, mathematics, art, history, and science, but with a goal to use these as a base for critical examinations and experimentations with creating practices of sustainability in their own lives and working with local and global communities. They learn public speaking, debating, critical forms of analysis of social and ecological issues, volunteering, and connecting with public officials to share experiences and opinions. Instructors in this program focus on developing deep contexts for learning that are immediately connected to the real world and provide first-hand experiences.
  • 21. EcoJustice at SFS Student-as-researcher Teacher-as-mediator & visionary Connections with cultural and ecological commons Place-based education
  • 22. Learning Experiences 1. Central questions 2. Goal-setting & goal-achieving 3. Captivation 4. Reflection & meditation 5. Connections & tensions 6. Perceptions & originations 7. Co-creative actions 8. Communication & presentation 9. Questions & implications
  • 23. Learning Experiences Central Questions
 What are the 1 or 2 “big” questions that are driving this whole lesson? These are questions that students should be able to answer with confidence, accuracy, and thoughtfulness to show that they have completed their work for this learning experience. These can be presented at any time during the lesson experience, and students will need to be able to show their level of understanding by the end of the learning experience. ! Goal-Setting & Goal-Achieving
 The instructor should allow a few minutes for students to articulate their goals for this learning experience. “I want to be able to…when the learning experience is completed.” The instructor helps student determine if these goals are appropriate and connected directly to the learning experience. Students and the instructor keep track of the stated goals. When appropriate, the students and instructors revisit the stated goals to see if they should change or to see if they have achieved them. Students need to record their goal-achievements in some way at the end of the learning experience. There should be a direct link to the central question(s) of the lesson. This is mandatory for every new learning experience.! Captivation
 A short experience that engages students emotionally, intellectually, and creatively. This can be done to set the stage for the learning experience as a whole, to bring attention back after a longer activity that may have depleted some energy reserves, create disequilibrium, provide a jolt of humor, or rapid fire question and answers based on an earlier part of the experience.
  • 24. Learning Experiences Reflection & Meditation
 A quiet, introspective experience when students can check in with themselves, take time to develop questions, make connections, and engage new thoughts and perspectives. This can be done with writing, using art, meditation, guided imagery, etc. It’s a time for students to investigate deeper thoughts and questions they have that may take time for come to the surface and formally organize themselves as thoughts, statements, questions, etc. ! Connections & Tensions
 A time to explore (inter)connections with the world, each other, nature, local community, or other real world sites that are appropriate that emerge directly from this learning experience. Students can share stories and experiences with each other that draw from the learning experience directly. The aim here is not to develop binaries as ways to construct lenses of thinking, but rather to dive into tensions that exist in the real world that make our living experiences so complex. ! Perceptions & Originations
 Knowledge is recognized as always having come from people with a certain group identities, a history, and a set of values. Where did the information or concept come from? Whose voices are favored? Whose are excluded? Are there arguments against it? Whose voices tend to represent the arguments against it? How is hegemony operating? How did we historically get here? How does this knowledge contribute or take away from a sustainable society or personal lifestyle.
  • 25. Learning Experiences Co-Creative Action " Students make, produce, build, and create. The instructor introduces new concepts, models new techniques, engages with inquiry (deductive thinking and actions), or creates a scenario for exploration. Students are engaged and ultimately learn by doing. This is a co-creative experience because students are exploring and investigating concepts not to cement in “right answers,” but rather to develop ways of knowing and to seek out ways to evaluate the validity of knowledge all done with the teacher as a collaborator in this process.! Communication & Presentation
 Sharing of rationale, formulated thinking, practices based on experiences. The instructor supports clear communication of thoughts and arguments that provide an understanding of experiences, claims, conclusions, or more questions…all of which directly emerge out of action, reflection, perceptions/originations and connections/tensions.! Questions & Implications
 Based on the action, reflection, and connections/tensions of this learning experience, students investigate more questions and implications at home. This can mean doing more reading, researching on the internet/at a library, trying out/practicing techniques, interviewing family and friends, etc. Ultimately, this process is seeing how what was learned throughout the learning experience applies to their homes, local communities, and beyond.
  • 26. References • Real Hourly Wages and Hours Worked: Still off Their Interim Highs
 http://advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/Employment-Wages-and-Hours.php • Love, K. A. (2012). 'Love and rage' in the classroom: Planting the seeds of community empowerment. Educational Studies, 48(1), 52-75. • Love, K. (2012). Authenticity and cooperation as pathways to school success. In D. Mulcahy (Ed.), Transforming schools: Alternative perspectives on school reform (pp. 121-134). New York, NY: Information Age. • Love, K. A., Gill, K., King, A., & Love, K. L. (2013). A framework of Waldorf philosophy and EcoJustice pedagogy at the Sustainable Farm School. In M. Mueller & D. Tippens (Eds.), EcoJustice, citizen science, and youth activism: Situated tensions for science education. New York, NY: Springer. • Photography: Kimberly Gill & Kurt Love