Reflections on E-Learning and Educating in Sustainability

Stephen Sterling is an independent consultant working in the academic and NGO fields in the UK and internationally. He is author of the book; ’Sustainable Education – Revisioning Learning and Change‘. He states: "As the UNESCO report points out, just as we have learned to live unsustainably, we now need to learn how to live sustainably. Such learning for responsibility requires educational systems, institutions and educators to develop response-ability – that is, the ability to meet the challenge and opportunity that sustainability presents. This is the context for any meaningful discussion about the role of education in the 21st century." Stephen continues. "In the imposition of managerial and economic values on education… we have lost our sense of authentic education, of caring, of community, of engagement, of real purpose. Sustainable education implies four descriptors: sustaining, tenable, healthy and durable.

• Sustaining – it helps sustain people, communities and ecosystems
• Tenable – it is ethically defensible, working with integrity, justice,
respect and inclusiveness
• Healthy – it is itself a viable system, embodying and nurturing
healthy relationships and emergence at different system levels
• Durable – it works well enough in practice to be able to keep doing it.

Stephen says, "There is nothing particularly mysterious about this. In the imposition of managerial and economic values on education, evidenced in the whole panoply of endless testing, inspection, precise learning outcomes, performance indicators, competition and so on – and in the disillusion and mounting stress levels that have accompanied this drive, we have lost our sense of authentic education, of caring, of community, of engagement, of real purpose. Rather, an ecological view implies putting relationship back into education and learning – seeking synergy between all aspects of education: ethos, curriculum, pedagogy, management, procurement and resource use, architecture and community links – with emphasis on such values as respect, trust, participation, ownership, democracy, openness, and environment. Envisioning this change – and realisable, practicable steps in our own working contexts – is key. In essence, what we all are engaged in here is a critically important ‘learning about learning’ process, and one which will directly affect the chances of a more sustainable future for all. The very positive response to the briefing, from individuals and organisations in various parts of the world, indicates that many people are more than ready for this challenge."

Charles Wolforth, popular lecturer and author of The Fate of Nature has spoken all over the United States and overseas. He refers to the self-absorbed attitude humans have had to date as a “tragedy of the commons.” This is living life for a self-oriented existence. Connecting survival not for just ourselves but include each living system as intricate parts of our own existence is what needs to happen to connect our will to protect all life. Wolforth says we need to become more “we” oriented as other cultures. Link our lifestyles to estuaries and the eco-systems of all life. It makes sense that if we link all living systems and people together as stakeholders, preservation and health would prevail.

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