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Sustainability

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Kerrie Ford

on 26 November 2013

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Transcript of Sustainability

Sustainability
Rationale

Sustainability is defined by ACARA (2012) as ‘the ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life’.

In order for the Earth to be sustainable, it must be able to maintain an environment that provides clean air, fresh water and the food needed for its inhabitants to survive indefinitely.



Hopes and (im)possibilities
Parliament House of Australia
Sustainable patterns of living meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Actions to improve sustainability are both individual and collective endeavors shared across local and global communities. They necessitate a renewed and balanced approach to the way humans interact with each other and the environment.
(ACARA, 2012)
Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for young Australians was released in 2008
This document was a 4 year plan 2009 - 2012. It recognized the many demands on Education and established 2 goals for Educating Young Australians. These goals primarily focused on educational excellence and equity for all students.
In 2005, the "Educating for a Sustainable Future" was produced by the Department of the Environment and Heritage - Australian Government, to provide a nationally agreed vision for environmental education for sustainability.
The goal of this document was to empower people of all ages to take responsibility for their personal actions and the changes required to future sustainability.
"The Sustainability Curriculum Framework" was produced by the "Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and The Arts - Australian Government in 2010 as a framework for educators and policy makers to effectively incorporate sustainability in to the curriculum from Foundation through to year 10.
This document focused on reducing our ecological footprint
whilst simultaneously improving the quality of life that we value—the
‘livability’ of our society.
Conclusion: Australia cannot control the rest of the world in their actions, and it is argued on a daily basis as to whether humans can turn around and control climate change and the future sustainability of the planet.
This new curriculum framework is the best approach to the Sustainability issue focusing on both environmental and communications through education.
Teaching students to become "active informed citizens" was part of the second goal which included:
morals and ethics,
appreciating other cultures and religions including indigenous.
justice and democracy
relations with Asia
working for the common good particularly sustaining and improving natural and social environments, and
responsible global citizens.
On an individual basis, the possibilities of sustainability will be high due to the curriculum being incorporated into every year level. On a class basis, the success will be determined by the commitment of the teacher towards the priority.


By the end of year 10, students will have a good basis of knowledge and understanding of sustainability.
The Australian Curriculum lists Sustainability as a Cross Curriculum Priority to be integrated into all areas of learning between Foundation and year 10. AusVELS and The Australian Curriculum acknowledges that improving sustainability requires action on all levels between individual through to Global approaches. That it is necessary for balanced interactions between humans - and humans and the environment to take place for effective sustainable actions to be established.
The United Nations is calling on "All Nations" for cooperation on the 21st Centuries No1 issue of sustainable development. Cooperation between all levels of economic position and culture.
The Australian Curriculum is educating our youth to obtain the knowledge, understanding and communication skills to take action for Australia and themselves individually.
The Australian Curriculum has been developed and is now being introduced into Schools all over Australia. It is the first Curriculum to be used in every state and Territory.
Within the History Curriculum, sustainability goals will focus on teaching students how the past relates to the future, historical trends and develop an understanding of the changes in environment due to human actions.
In English, The Australian Curriculum framework hopes to develop investigation, analysis and communication skills to advocate and evaluate and action for sustainable futures. Sharing of knowledge is the key to promoting social, economic and ecological systems and world views including social justice. Using this knowledge, students will learn to create persuasive texts to convince others to take action for a sustainable future.
Through cognitive learning, connections with their prior knowledge, students will engage and achieve the goals of sustainability in English.
In the Maths curriculum: Sustainability provides many contexts for students to develop the mathematical skills for future learning. Students can observe, collect, record and organize a plethora of real items that can be connected to real life situations. Sustainability is a "Plus" for the subject of Mathematics and will be successful in achieving the Cross Curriculum Priority if the connection between the 2 subjects is scaffolded.
Science in the primary years is about exploring authentic contexts and investigating relationships, cycles and cause and effect. Students will learn to that science results are what decision making should be based upon. In Sustainability, Science is how we predict possible events, and how to plan, manage and adapt human behaviors to minimize future events. Focusing on concept understanding and understanding common misconceptions, will help teachers to achieve their current educational goals and encourage better student results in the future.
Unfortunately in recent years it has become evident that our current way of living is affecting the Earth’s ability to sustain life into the future (DEWHA, 2009). As our population grows, there is an increased demand on the resources that we obtain from the Earth (Littledyke, Taylor & Eames, 2009). The increased consumption of these resources, together with economic growth and development, has consequently led to a number of global issues that directly impact on the Earth’s ability to sustain life.

The global issues include:

Global warming
Deforestation
Population growth
Reduction of farm land for infrastructure
Water security and pollution
Biodiversity loss
Poverty
Geopolitical instability
Competition for finite resources

(DEWHA, 2009)

Global Issues

Whilst one quarter of the world's population live in comfortable conditions, consuming up to 80% of the Earth’s valuable resources; one fifth of the population lives in complete poverty, unable to meet their own basic needs.
(Littledyke et al., 2009)

To understand and act upon these issues, we must understand that we are part of a 'system' that is our planet.

Sustainability therefore encompasses more than just an awareness about our environment, it also requires the consideration of economic, social and cultural systems, and how they interrelate.
(ACARA, 2012)
In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly met to acknowledge and discuss global sustainability issues.
Sustainability Education

A major focus of the Australian Government's plan is to provide education for sustainability to as many Australians as possible through business, industry and the education sectors.


Sustainability education has therefore become an important focus in primary and secondary education in Australia.

With the introduction of the Australian Curriculum in 2012, sustainability has been introduced as a cross-curriculum priority, which is embedded into all learning areas including English, maths, history and science (ACARA, 2012).
As global citizens we have a responsibility to minimise our ecological footprint, to ensure that future generations get the opportunity to enjoy the quality of life that we appreciate today.
Sustainability Education in Australia

Sustainability education aims to teach students how to become ‘active and informed citizens who will work for the common good, in particular sustaining and improving natural and social environments’, a goal featured in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians’
(MCEETYA, 2008).

Human actions have an impact on all of Earth's inhabitants.
They developed a vision for the Education for Sustainable Development
UNESCO then invited Governments from around the world to participate in the ‘Decade of Education for Sustainable Development’, from 2005-2014 (DSEWPC, 2011).
The Australian Government supports UNESCO’s vision of sustainability, and has created an action plan to ensure
‘all Australians have the awareness, knowledge, skills, values and motivation to live sustainability’
(DEWHA, 2009, pg 5).
Critical Appraisal of Australian greenhouse calculator animations
The Australian Greenhouse Calculator is a Government run website which aims to educate the Australian public about how lifestyle can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. This tool draws attention to everyday things that the average person can do to help reduce their emissions and contribute to a more sustainable future. It is education-oriented, focusing on changing behaviour to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at an individual level.
WINDOW by Jeannie Baker

“Little by little the small changes add together…”

Jeannie Baker’s “Window” presents a view of our ever changing world through the window of a young boy named Sam. Year by year Sam and his family see changes through their window’s view. Once a rural country outlook full of wildlife and bush scenery, the tell-tale signs of an urban sprawl creep in. As Sam grows older and into a young adult his view gradually changes from lush greenery and wildlife to one including cleared forests, a new housing estate, and sealed roads until the ultimate suburban arrival of MacDonald’s.
The book’s message is presented using a series of collage pictures rather than words allowing the reader to fully take in the view and find clues to the ever changing scenery and environment.

Cool Australia: Evaluating Energy Saving Technology activity
www.coolaustralia.org is an online resource created to bring the environment into the classroom using core curricular subjects such as maths, science and English to teach students about food, energy, waste, sustainability and other environmental issues.
Evaluating Energy Saving technology
http://coolaustralia.org/activity/evaluating-energy-saving-technology/
The link above is an activity from within the Grade 5 and 6 Energy units on the Cool Australia website. Using the solutions presented in the activity, students work in groups choosing one form of energy saving technology. They are asked to present an information report that incorporates a point of view on energy saving technology. Student’s presentations should evaluate their energy saving option in terms of how it will work, how it will save energy, whether or not it is renewable energy, what is its source of energy? As a basis for their research, the website also provides an energy fact sheet. http://coolaustralia.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Energy-fact-sheet.pdf

Analysis of this resource

This resource relates specifically to the sustainability curriculum OI.8 (VCAA, 2012). It also draws on several areas of the national curriculum integrating sustainability with many core curriculum subjects (see table 1 in frame 21) along with SOSE disciplines.
A key focus of this resource is renewable energy, highlighting important questions for our students such as how does Australia generate energy now? And is there a more sustainable way for Australia to generate energy in the future?
Asking students to evaluate energy saving technology not only allows them to research and gain in depth knowledge on their chosen option but encourages them to form an opinion which in turn embraces ownership of the energy issues for students. They will be more likely to take action in the future on these types of energy issues if they have formed their own opinion through research. This evaluation also focuses on cause and effect allowing students to see that small changes we make on an individual and community level can have a big impact on the environment.
By grade 5 and 6 children are already developing a sense of pride in themselves, their community and their country. The fact sheet as part of this this resource, presents some very confronting facts about our environment and in particular Australia’s contribution to the world’s Greenhouse Gas emissions. Statements within the fact sheet such as “Australia now has one of the highest rates of greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world”; and “Hazelwood power station in the La Trobe Valley in Victoria is the dirtiest power station in the world, emitting 17 million tons of carbon every year” can be very powerful in terms of creating a “positive proactive attitude” (Spearman & Eckhoff, 2012) in students.
One downfall of this activity is that it could not be easily adapted to younger years. Secondly, whilst this resource introduces new and varied vocabulary for students it is quite technical in its language use and some concepts may be difficult to grasp. The energy fact sheet however helps to ease the technicality of some of the aspects of this unit as it is written in reasonably simplistic terminology.

Using “Window” as a sustainability resource in the classroom
This wordless picture book is an effective resource for teaching sustainability in the classroom as it allows children to think about sustainability in terms of the environment that they live in. Issues of deforestation, animal extinction and pollution are happening in our back yard and this picture book allows students to see that small gradual changes do impact our environment in a big way and that sustainability is also affected by economic and community factors. Another highlight of this resource is the flexibility it offers for use from younger primary through to upper primary years.

Critical Appraisal: "Window" by Jeannie Baker
Critical Appraisal: Cool Australia - Evaluating Energy Saving Technology
No longer a tranquil bush setting, Sam's window now looks out onto bustling urban surroundings
Using “Window” in the Early Primary years
Window as a teaching resource encourages younger students to look for clues in the book that represent change in Sam’s life and his street and to embrace how these changes affect our environment.
Younger readers can relate this book to their own backyard or community. What changes have they seen in their own community recently? Can they draw a sequence ((ACHHS015) and (ACHHS016) in Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, 2012)of these changes like a story board? This picture book and many related activities allow younger students to associate with change in our landscape its environmental effects.
Teachers can also narrow in on certain aspects of the book. For example, in the first two scenes, we see kangaroos, and several types of birdlife. This opens up discussion and activities regarding preservation of wildlife. Where will these animals and birds live when their homes are taken away? If animals are losing their homes, how does this make the children feel? Teachers can draw on this text to integrate these aspects of sustainability into the English curriculum, specifically ACELT1593(VCAA, 2012).
Another focus may be the rising level of rubbish in the environment in the last 2-3 scenes of the book as the town has become a bustling urban city. How does this encourage students to think about their responsibilities as community citizens, to investigate the ways individuals, families, groups and communities can work to improve their environment (Level 1 Civics and Citizenship in VCAA, 2012)
One area of caution when using this resource in younger primary years is that the underlying theme of sustainability could be overlooked if the associated activities are not put in context for younger students that is, that gradual changes in our landscape can greatly impact our environment.

Using Window in the Middle and Upper primary years:
“We are all part of these changes” seems to be one of the underlying themes in this book which integrates well into Civics and Citizenship by allowing students to see the part they play as an individual, a community and as global citizens in sustainability.
“Window” integrates particularly well as a cross curricular priority into the English curriculum. By allowing older students to ‘read’ this book students can “analyse and explain literal and implied information” from the text (Grade 5 English Achievement Standards in ACARA, 2008) and its relevance to sustainability. It encourages grade 5 students to explain “how the features of a text advocating community action… are used to meet the purpose of the text” ((ACELY1701) in VCAA, 2011)). In this instance the features of the text are sequenced images.
In grade 6, students might investigate strategies that Jeannie Baker is using to influence her readers ((ACELY1801) in VCAA, 2011). Alternatively students may consider writing a narrative for the text from different viewpoints (ACELT1610) such as through the eyes of an Aboriginal elder or Torres Strait Islander which may include perspectives of animals and spirits and how we should care for the Earth.
Students may be able to create their own narrative for the book based on how changes we make as individuals or small communities affect our landscape (see video link for sample narrative in screen 27).
The history curriculum allows us to make then and now comparisons using the changing landscape in Window as a basis to compare to colonial settlement, specifically “influencing factors on patterns of development, aspects of the daily life of the inhabitants (including Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders) and how the environment changed” ((ACHHK094) in VCAA, 2011).
This historical focus can also be used as an opportunity to further develop the interrelatedness of cultural, environmental and economic needs as these relationships are not explicit in this resource. In particular, cultural factors are not emphasised which is a shortcoming of this text when using as a sustainability resource, therefore teachers need to pose questions that “scaffold children's understandings of the three pillars of sustainability--culture, environment, and economy” (Spearman & Eckhoff, 2012, p. 357 ).


Window by Jeannie Baker - sample video
References

Presentation by:
Rosemary Fearon
Kerrie Ford
Siahna Forward
Belinda Hartung

The Australian Greenhouse Calculator features four animations which address important topics for understanding environmental sustainability: greenhouse gases, the carbon cycle, the ozone layer and carbon footprints. Each animation provides an engaging lesson on one environmental topic important to modern day sustainability.
Evaluating animations
Critical Appraisal:
Australian Greenhouse Calculator Animations
The animations create a good foundation for further learning about global warming, greenhouse gases and sustainability as a whole. They convey their relatively complex concepts in a simple and clear manner which would be easily accessible to students. However, the language and scientific background knowledge needed to appreciate the animations may make them more suitable for use with higher primary school classes, ie Grades 5 - 6.
This resource represents an excellent introductory source of information to a unit of study. It introduces concepts in a fun, interesting fashion. The animations explain terms that may be unfamiliar to students - greenhouse, ozone, carbon - and how these terms relate to the environmental issues affecting our planet. They also demonstrate the processes underpinning these concepts and how they relate to each other, helping students clearly understand the relationship an individual’s actions can have on not just themselves but on their community and their world.
The animations adhere to the stated aim of the Australian Greenhouse Calculators: bringing awareness to issues surrounding sustainability. They provide students with a deeper understanding of how the issues surrounding sustainability are affecting the earth, their community and themselves. It is important that children are made aware of the role they play within the broader community. Many children’s lives revolve around a small bubble that includes their home, family, friends, and school. They may not always understand how their actions and choices can affect the wider world. These animations are likely to be effective in demonstrating to students that certain issues can be viewed in context with the entire globe.
AusVELS emphasizes the need for students to have a broad understanding of their role within their wider community, recommending that “students explore and consider different perspectives and articulate and justify their own opinions on local, national and global issues” (VCAA, 2012). The concept of social responsibility can be introduced simply by increasing students’ awareness of how their actions have consequences beyond themselves. This topic encourages kids to understand that when acting responsibly, they are contributing on much larger scale.
The animations also promote understanding of scientific concepts relevant to the natural world. Interacting with this resource enables students to explore ideas relating to geography, the environment, and earth science. In the geography domain, AusVELS emphasizes the need for students to acquire the ability to “explore how and why natural factors and human activities affect their lives” (VCAA, 2012). This resource provides students with the opportunity to become aware of how, and why, human actions can impact the natural world, and conversely how the natural world can impact their own lives.
The animations do have some limitations as a teaching resource. As they are short in duration, they can provide only limited information and should be supplemented in the classroom for children to fully understand the concept of sustainability and its implications. As the animations provide excellent introductory information they could be used to initially engage the students, providing an overview and generating discussion. They would need to be used as part of a larger teaching plan to provide students with a comprehensive picture of how the concepts they are learning about – eg the ozone layer and carbon cycle – fit into the overarching theme, sustainability.
The animations also use complex language and cover relatively mature content matter, which may not be suited to younger students. This introduces some limitations when applying this resource throughout all the primary levels; none-the-less, it remains a useful resource for the upper primary year levels

There has also been an attempt to interweave a narrative, using fictional characters, into the animations. While this is likely to engage students more than a dry presentation using only facts, improving attention and generating discussion, it may produce confusion at times and potentially distract from the main message of the piece.

The animations allow for a fresh, interesting look at the sustainability and environmental issues facing modern day society. The passionate, enthusiastic tone taken by the animations is likely to help kids fully engage with the issues which may otherwise be perceived as dull. However, they are not suitable for all year levels and are therefore somewhat limited in their use.
The Australian Greenhouse Calculator features four animations which address important topics for understanding environmental sustainability: greenhouse gases, the carbon cycle, the ozone layer and carbon footprints. Each animation provides an engaging lesson on one environmental topic important to modern day sustainability.
Evaluating animations
http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/AGC/animations.html
A young mother looks from her window at the tranquil view of bushland and wildlife
Soon new neighbouring houses add to the view along with a sealed road
The street view from the window is much busier now with more traffic and passers-by
Full transcript