Transforming Mindsets

Talking with an ESD group at Gothenburg University this week, we had some interesting discussions about how to transform mindsets towards ESD. There are many teachers who are engaged in ESD work at Gothenburg university across the campus. The ESD group that we talked with are working with teachers across all disciplines to help support their work for ESD. They mentioned how they have tried several different tools that can help students and teachers to better understand the ESD they have applied. However, there is a need to help provide support for teachers in a simple and inspirational way that can help even the most resistant teacher understand the benefits of ESD.

We presented our project and discussed the benefits of practical tools like the one we have designed. The benefits of using our sustainability competence assessment tool with a student group is that the teachers on all modules of the program that the student group will study can work together to support each other. As the teachers get a better understanding of their student group’s sustainability competence level, the teachers can plan together what the goals might be across the curriculum and create a learning progression approach to ESD for the student group.

Once more teachers get involved to test out ideas and share their experiences that can be applied to the relevant discipline, more teachers can learn from each other about what pedagogical activities might help different sustainability competencies and different student levels. The ability to assess the students at the beginning of each semester will provide support for teachers to address the sustainability competencies with a student-centred approach in their education throughout the program. For example, the assessment provides information about the student group that can be used to tailor activities to help the students inspire each other by using flipped-classroom activities. Students who have a high confidence in their sustainability competence can help those in the group that feel less confident in their sustainability competencies.

This sustainability competence assessment tool can therefore alleviate the stressors that teachers may feel towards teaching for sustainability when knowledge, pedagogical skills and ability to comprehend how sustainability may be relevant in their discipline or module can be problematic. This is when teachers can support each other. As role models, teachers who already feel a strong engagement with their ESD can help to influence those who have started but do not know what steps to take next.

In order to help inspire and overcome these challenges, we have started a workshop service where we can visit your school to help engage your teachers with ESD work. The workshops are designed to inform but also adapt to your teachers’ needs, so that each teacher can access the support they need. We would like to thank the ESD group at Gothenburg university for the great discussion and tips and advice on other networks within ESD. We look forward to meeting you all at our workshop, soon.

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