Within, above, between or outside? : ESD in teacher training : implications of various institutional constructions

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Within, above, between or outside? : ESD in teacher training : implications of various institutional constructions

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Publication Other
Title Within, above, between or outside? : ESD in teacher training : implications of various institutional constructions
Author(s) Avery, Helen ; Nordén, Birgitta
Date 2015
English abstract
Introduction: Theoretically, ESD is variously construed as inter- or transdiscipline. Despite divergences (Barth & Michelsen 2013; Lundholm 2011; Shallcross & Robinson 2007), a consensus exists in acknowledging fundamental complexities (Gough 2012), engagement and action-oriented learning (Sterling 2011; Wiek, Withycombe & Redman 2011). Objectives: The study looks at teacher education, considering the ways ESD-oriented knowledge, competencies and approaches are situated within pathways and curricula. The organization of teacher education (Rauch & Steiner 2013; UNESCO 2005; Wals 2014) is crucial, since it ultimately affects the potential for transdisciplinary development in schools. It is argued that the meaning of ESD in higher education is shaped by specific institutional structures, and the vocational contexts and practices the courses are oriented towards. With respect to teacher training, the meaning of ESD is additionally shaped by policy and steering documents regulating the profession. Methods: Policy documents and course descriptions relating to teacher education from two Swedish universities and four Danish institutions are investigated. Aspects focused here are: sustainability awareness, democratic deliberation, transdisciplinarity, working with complexity, problem-solving, boundary-crossing cooperation, action preparedness. Attention is also given to how the teacher training environments relate institutionally to wider academic contexts, and to how ESD oriented teacher competencies are formally described in terms of learning outcomes, requirements and qualifications Results: At a macro-level, a fairly positive picture of the position of HESD in northern Europe emerges (see ue4sd outcomes). Looking more specifically at teacher training, however, our study suggests that sustainability concerns are still marginal. Focus lies on subject-specific knowledge, and sustainability mainly appears as an isolated aspect of natural science education. Knowledge is constructed through assessment practices that tend to standardise, simplify and fragment understanding of complex interrelationships. Academic writing skills are emphasised to the detriment of transdisciplinarity and action-oriented capabilities. Conclusion: At an institutional level, economic steering and criteria for operationalising academic excellence tend to drive towards increased compartimentalisation. Importantly, the way learning is operationalised through modularisation of teaching provisions, constructive alignment of curricula and highly formalised assessment practices appears to limit transformative potentials for greening HESD curricula. Although the wider academic environments contain sophisticated research groups in the area of sustainability studies, there are very few institutional points of contact with teacher training programmes. Finally, the separation between academic and vocational tracks in Denmark further increases the institutional distance between teacher training and sustainability-oriented academic research.
Link http://weec2015.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Abstract-List-WEEC2015.pdf (external link to publication)
Publisher WEEC
Host/Issue Abstract list of WEEC 2015;
Pages 372
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Curriculum
Teacher education
Humanities/Social Sciences
Note 8th World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) : Planet and People, how can they develop together? Gothenburg, Sweden, June 29-July 2, 2015
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/19482 (link to this page)
Link http://weec2015.org/ (external link to related web page)

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