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Author's note
Introduction
What is E S D?
Reorienting Education
Localizing the Global Initiative
Challenges and Barriers to E S D
Community Sustainability Goals
Case Study: Toronto, Canada Board of Education
Managing Change
Public Participation
Concluding remarks
Tools to Introduce the Concept of Sustainable Development
Tools to Create Community Goals
Tools to Reorient Education to Address Sustainability
Tools for Managing Change
References
Web resources

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Reduce the number of units in the current curriculum to make room for education for sustainability.

Purpose

To evaluate each unit in the current curriculum for relevance to daily life and community sustainability goals.

Comments

This exercise is most effective if community sustainability goals have been defined. If your community does not have sustainability goals, omit the shaded portions of the worksheet. Exercises facilitating the development of community sustainability goals include Envisioning a Sustainable Future and Creating Community Sustainability Goals: Deciding What is Important.

Group size: 3 or more participants.

Time Needed: 2 to 3 hours, depending on the number of units to be reviewed.

Materials

  • Copies of unit descriptions, including a list of concepts found in the curriculum, one per participant
  • Copies of your community's list of sustainability goals, one per participant.
  • Copies of the Curriculum Evaluation worksheet.

Preparation

In the spaces provided on the Curriculum Evaluation worksheet, write the unit titles. Use as many sheets as necessary. Make photocopies to distribute to participants.

Directions

  1. Distribute worksheets, unit descriptions, and community sustainability goal lists to your participants.
  2. Ask your participants to read the first unit description and determine how often they use such concepts in daily life. Ask participants to assign a value to the unit, following the directions given on the worksheet. Explain that if a participant uses x, he/she must explain this choice in the area provided.
  3. Ask participants to evaluate whether or not the unit reinforces one or more community sustainability goals.
  4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for each unit under consideration.
  5. Collect the worksheets and give your participants a 30-minute break while you tabulate the data.
  6. Calculate the average score for each unit. If a unit received any xs, tally the number of xs and subtract this number from your total number of participants. Use this new number to calculate the average. Be sure to note the number of xs next to the score. (Examples of average scores include 1.75xxxx and 3x.)
  7. While your participants are on break, list the units on the chalkboard in descending order by average score received, ranking scores with x higher than scores without (e.g., 3x is ranked higher than 3, which is ranked higher than 2x.)
  8. Invite your participants to return; redistribute the worksheets.
  9. Examine the rankings list on the chalkboard. As a group, determine the threshold above which units will be kept and below which units will no longer be taught.
  10. Discuss each unit falling below the threshold as it pertains to your community's sustainability goals. If the group determines that a unit reinforces these goals, we recommend it be kept. If the group determines that a unit does not reinforce these goals, we recommend it be reserved for later discussion of ways it might be enhanced to reinforce the goals of your community. If a unit is determined to run counter to your community's sustainability goals, we recommend it be dropped from the curriculum.

Note

While discussing units that appear to be used regularly by only a few participants, bear in mind that the concepts and skills involved may still be important to teach to the next generation, as it cannot be foretold which students will need those skills and concepts as adults.

Concepts used infrequently (e.g., yearly) may not need to be taught as a unit. Consider engaging in a special classroom activity that utilizes the concept. The activity should present the concept in a realistic setting to help students to tie the concept to their parents' or communities' activities.

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