RESOURCES FOR TEACHING ABOUT SUSTAINABLE
This guide was compiled by CAT for the East Midlands Assembly
1. Introduction 3
Subject potential 4
The sustainable school 4
The Web 5
2. Resources 6
Sources of further resources 6
Creating the sustainable school (action to change the school itself) 6
Encompassing many areas 9
Climate change 10
Energy – energy saving and renewable energy 11
Development issues 19
Fair trade / trading issues 20
The Ecological Footprint 20
Food, farming, forestry 20
World summit on sustainable Development 23
Sources of data about the State of the World and info for teachers 24
3. Subject specific resources 26
Design and Technology 26
Business Studies & Economics 27
4. Appendix 29 Supplier and organisation details 29
Teaching resources now come in a great variety of forms: books, packs, CD roms, videos, the web, schemes with or without support, places to visit and also the environment in & around the school.
It is extremely difficult for teachers to get to know about all the resources and opportunities available. They need to search the web, contact organisations, look for resource lists, go through educational publishers catalogues, go to exhibitions and conferences, have access to what arrives on the desk of the Headteacher or head of department and be very well organised in collecting, collating and storing what they come across. In our contact with teachers through CAT, we find that even the most enthusiastic of teachers have not seen materials which they would find very useful. We show teachers things that we know have been sent free to every school and they have very rarely seen them. For teachers, finding resources is very time consuming and they do not have that time.
The cost of resources is frequently a problem, either because they don‟t control the budget or
it is too small. There is a further issue, which teachers frequently mention, which is the logistics of getting things paid for by the school and the difficulty of claiming money back if they spend their own. This is again a problem of time.
With all materials there is an issue of being able to judge which resources are “good”. In this context this means not only appropriate to the age range, written in appropriate language, easy to use and fit to curriculum / syllabus needs but also whether the resource is accurate in it‟s content and enhances pupils‟ understanding of sustainable development.
There is a need for resources that educate teachers about what Sustainable development is, what areas it encompasses and how one can prioritise issues. The QCA website attempts this but uses a list of key concepts which, in our experience, leave primary teachers confused and alienated. If they are supported with training sessions they can eventually find the key concepts a useful checklist to see how broad their delivery has been.
There is a very comprehensive CD rom available free from UNESCO Teaching and Learning
for a Sustainable Future. The November 2000 issue of the New Internationalist provided a useful perspective of Sustainability. Ofsted have recently produced a very readable account of work on sustainability happening in 26 schools that they have visited. Called Taking the
first step forward…towards an education for sustainable development, it is a very good way in
for teachers to get a sense of what it is all about and what is possible. It is available at www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/index.cfm?fuseaction=pubs.summary&id=3389
Sustainable development embraces areas that used to be defined as Environmental education, Development Education, global education and energy education (and probably more). Some resources that were written under any of these headings in the past did deliver what we now call ESD. For example, they did so if they focussed on reducing our use of fossil fuels and particularly so, if they linked that to global impacts with specific reference to our impact on the rest of the world‟s population. There are some “old” materials that are still the best thing produced in particular areas.
Some resources deliver one bit of ESD without any reference to the big picture. Such resources can be very useful as long as the teacher has enough knowledge to be able to put them into a broader context. For example a resource that deals with threats to a particular animal species because of climate change could be valuably used if the teacher discusses with the students how this also relates to the needs of and threats to people. A resource that
looks at recycling a material could be valuably used if the teacher raises the issue of whether the product need ever have been made in the first place.
The content of educational resources is not always accurate. Sometimes there are actual inaccuracies but also misleading impressions are given by providing incomplete information. This seems to be a particular problem with general textbooks covering all aspects of a curriculum area, when the author cannot be an expert in everything and frequently appears to fall into using what one might read in the popular press. Many geography and science textbooks deal very superficially with issues of sustainable development. Some sections on climate do not refer to climate change or its causes. Sections on fossil fuels often include their relationship with acid rain but not with climate change. Sections on renewable sources of energy often include inaccuracies but also there are frequently lists of impacts of sources of energy with pros and cons, which lack rigour, rarely compare equivalent things and seem to be obsessed with producing lists of equal length.
Production of resources is funded in a variety of ways; on a “commercial” basis where the product has to be sold to cover the cost of production (writing, printing and promoting), with grants from government, public bodies and trusts but also from private companies. Increasingly the funding for resources is coming from private companies. If the funder has a lot of money then it is possible for them to distribute their resources for free, produce them in a very „glossy‟ form and publicise them much more effectively than a small organisation can. There can also be a question of bias in the way issues are presented. Some teachers draw their students‟ attention to who has funded a resource and this should always be done.
There are organisations which try to compile useful lists of resources and some have searchable databases on their websites. The Council for Environmental Education (CEE) do this with a very broad remit of sustainability, CREATE do it for energy resources and the Development Education Association (DEA) and Worldaware do it for development issues. There are organisations which sell publications from a variety of sources through mail order lists. This includes CAT and Oxfam.
Traditionally teachers have covered issues of environmental and development education particularly in Geography, frequently in Science and also in Design and Technology. PSE and Citizenship offer opportunities.
Sustainable development has such a broad remit that there is considerable potential for extending work into areas of the curriculum that are not traditionally seen as touching on it. This includes Maths, History, Drama, English and other languages.
However, most of the resources have been written to contribute to work in Geography, Science, PSE/Citizenship or Design and Technology.
The sustainable school
There is a strong argument that curriculum work will remain superficial in the minds of students if the school is not trying to make itself a more sustainable place. The key areas for action are those which lead to a reduction in fossil fuel use (heating and lighting the school, transport of students and teachers, consumption of materials) and those which produce a culture of care and responsibility for others (people in the South, other students, teachers, the local community) and for the physical environment of the school and its surroundings.
A key element is the empowerment of young people. They have to be involved in the process of decision making and action. Organisations with an interest in increasing the participation of young people include Save the Children UK (www.savethechildren.org.uk/) and the National
Children‟s Bureau (www.ncb.org.uk) and the Woodcraft Folk (www.woodcraft.org.uk). The
Eco-school approach involves pupils in the process. The materials produced by the Get Global project are particularly effective in this area.
Energy, waste production and water use can be significant as management issues when budgetting for the running of school premises.
Sources of support locally
Energy Efficiency Advice Centres operate on behalf of the Energy Saving Trust. EEACs provide