There are three ways to retool school and society for a sustainable future: First, most schools are not democratic. Children generally do not have meaningful influence on school policies. But the sustainable future will require people to fully participate in civic life, to make the decisions that affect their lives. Given opportunities to help govern their schools with caring adults working with them, children will have an opportunity to learn the skills of self-governance by self-governing: informing themselves of issues and perspectives, persuading others to adopt new points of view, negotiating compromises and implementing solutions.Read the entire piece at this link. What do you think our local schools should be doing?
Second, most schools reflect the biases of the larger economic system, minimizing the crucial historic and current roles of indigenous people, nonwhite immigrants and women. We need to honor and focus on those roles and live into their cultural practices and beliefs. By grounding ourselves in part in movements for justice and how they changed society in the past, the sustainability movement can build on those successes.
Third, schools should better connect children with the places where they live. Here in central Pennsylvania, our children can learn the histories of Penns Valley, Bellefonte and surrounding towns. They can learn how the stream water in Galbraith Gap Run flows from Bear Meadows to meet Spring Creek. They can come to know the subtle changes in tree stands in Cooper’s Gap, learn to recognize by sight and sound the myriad birds that cohabitate with us and understand the cyclical seasons of the wild and domesticated plants and animals we live among.
A local vision of education for sustainability
I (Peter Buckland) was recently invited to write an opinion piece for the Centre Daily Times on my vision of education. It is a broad appeal for democratic place-based education. I wrote: