This section considers some important dimensions of ESD that can help teacher/TVET educators to strengthen ESD practices.
In our previous Learning Action, we spent some time on the importance of culture and ESD, and looked at some aspects of integrating indigenous knowledges into education. Here we discuss this further as a component of transformative learning.
Catherine Odora-Hoppers (featured in the video in the next activity) is a well-known southern African scholar who has done research on indigenous knowledge and education. She often discusses the problem of Eurocentric approaches to education, highlighting that including indigenous knowledge is one of the important dynamics of transformative learning. This is important to ensure that learning is socio-culturally situated and meaningful to learners. Such an approach can facilitate ‘learning as connection’, where learners are able to make sense of more abstract concepts through also relating them to that which is more familiar to them.
Including indigenous knowledge in ESD activities can also offer learners a wider range of knowledge to work with in education, allowing for a wider ecology of knowledge to co-exist in our classrooms. This recognises and affirms plurality of knowledge and diverse ways of knowing (i.e. there is not just one way of knowing something). The Sustainability Starts with Teachers programme encourages you to include indigenous and local knowledge in your ESD work, and to link it to scientific and other forms of knowledge such as experiential knowledge in order to give learners a fuller education experience.
For TVET it is important to include practical knowledge as well as theoretical knowledge, as much theoretical knowledge in vocational education gains meaning when applied in practice. Do take note of the UNESCO quote below as you think about teaching methods.
“No universal model of ESD exists … Each country has to define its own sustainability and educational priorities and actions. The goals, emphases and processes must therefore be locally defined to meet the local environmental, social and economic conditions in culturally appropriate ways.” (UNESCO, 2005)