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Thoughts on the sustainability curriculum.

Within the science sustainability cross-curricular priority, there are 3 key concepts that students learn from P-10. They learn about systems, world views and futures. In relation to world views, the students are to learn the following.

World views that recognise the dependence of living things on healthy ecosystems, and value diversity and social justice, are essential for achieving sustainability.

World views are formed by experiences at personal, local, national and global levels, and are linked to individual and community actions for sustainability.

I really think this needs rewording. We want students to develop a world view and understand that humans depend on living things and healthy ecosystems in order to value ecological and human diversity as well as ecological and social justice, which are essential for achieving sustainability.

This world view needs to be formed from a range of experiences at personal, local, national and global levels and are linked to individual and community actions for sustainability.

The third concept is about the future. The concept is called futures.

It says that

- Sustainability of ecological, social and economic systems is achieved through individual and community action based on values

- Designing action for sustainability requires evaluation, assessment, balanced judgement on the future.

- Sustainable futures result from actions designed to preserve and/or restore the quality and uniqueness of environments.

Note that it doesn’t say policy change, only individual and community. Also note that it says future not present, even though we know that we need immediate action. Despite the fact that we know that these are both important if we have a chance at not going above 2 degrees.

Other things that are worth noting in this document are that ‘climate change’ is noted twice, once under how to implement sustainability in technologies and the other in languages. This is based off the assumption that only technology can protect against climate change. It is almost an insult not to mention it in science. The science sustainability statement does not mention that the relationships between cycles and human interaction causes climate change. This stems from the Governments own denial. It also says that science is the basis for decision-making in many areas of society and that these decisions affect the Earth system and students need to predict possible effects of human activity. Note that it doesn’t say that they need to observe how current actions are causing impact on the current systems and observe the current effects of human activity. The curriculum uses a future language, not a present language. It doesn’t name specific things that are occurring in the environment. It excludes climate change from the science curriculum almost entirely.

As a science teacher looking critically at the curriculum, I find this hard to swallow.

Now, I understand the people are entitled to their opinion. In a class like religion, history etc. opinion is more than welcomed. But in science, fact is fact. And as far as the data is concerned, climate change is a current fact. What is frustrating is the wording in these curriculum documents that dance around what students need to learn to be able to make informed choices as adults and informed choices now. It does not foster a culture of sustainability.

What I am hoping to do over the next few weeks is look critically at the curriculum and pull apart where and how to discuss climate change. I hope to give some resources as well.

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  © Alice Carwardine 2020 from Overturn the Tables.