Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fatal Conceit: Education

It doesn't take much to look at the myriad protests these days and wonder how and where young people have been trained to think alike and be so adamant about the rightness of their causes. To do as the activists and protesters want, the government would become more tyrannical and our personal freedoms would be lost. It is the highest form of conceit - a fatal conceit - for the progressives of today to assert they have the formula to solve complex problems and seek to change our behavior in the process.  It isn't possible, and the exercise always leads to tyranny.

But you almost can't blame the young and the intelligentsia who consider themselves and their ideas superior, because they have been taught from the time they started school to think and act within a proscribed thought bubble about what a perfect society should look like.  For decades, a progressive educational pedagogy has taken public (and private) education away from pure skills and content learning and down the rabbit hole of socially-correct, utopian educational practices.  Under the "sustainable" and "equity" flags, all curricula is subject to neglect and watering down because each pious progressive cause demands a slice of the educational pie.  Educators have even claimed the right to teach young students appropriate values and proper social and civic actions.

Of "Values Education"

An easy example of how seemingly benign subject - environmental education - is elevated to a values-based curricula established by the state (along with other states) and heavily funded with materials and teacher training by the EPA and the UN (UNESCO).  What child, or adult, working or learning in such a closed system stands a chance to think differently than what the state wants?

My children graduated from LO schools about 15 years ago, but I can't imagine holding them responsible for these learning goals.  Who decides what is right thinking and acting?

Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan (OELP)
In 2011 the legislature-approved the Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan: Toward a Sustainable Future.
The Plan puts forth a vision in which all Oregon students are:
  • lifelong stewards of their environment and community
  • willing and able to exercise rights and responsibilities of citizenship
  • choose to interact frequently with the outdoors
  • understand multi-faceted relationship to the natural world
  • well-prepared to address the challenges the future holds
Integrating regular outdoor activity into a student’s learning and life experience is integral to achieving this vision.
There are too many organizations and entities out there with similar goals and functions feeding into the environmental and sustainable movements to list even a fraction.  Here are a smattering of organizations working to support sustainability in Oregon public education:        

  • Oregon Department of Education: Oregon Environmental Literaxy Plan  (OELP)
  • Environmental Education Association of Oregon (EEAO)     
  • North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
  • State Educational and Environmental Roundtable (SEER) implements the EIC Model (Using Environment as an Integrating Context for improving student learning)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding and training
  • Expanding Capacity in Environmental Education (EE Capacity - formerly Environmental Education Training Assistance Program) funded by EPA
  • National Environmental Education Foundatin (NEEF)
  • My Environmental Education Evaluation Resource Assistant ((MEERA)
  • Gray Family Foundation
  • Children and Natur Network (C and NN)
  • The Intertwine Alliance
  • Oregon Department of Education: Oregon Sustainable Schools
  • US Department of Education: Green Ribbon Schools, Green Schools
  • Sustainable Schools Coalition (SSC) Oregon Chapter
  • And many, many MORE local, state and national organizations, privately and publicly funded.  It would take all day to list them and I still wouldn't get them all.  
Whose values do public schools teach?  Should piblic scholls be teaching any valies at all? When is teaching indoctrination?  See portions of a slide presetntatipn by a PSU School of 
Education professor about Education for Sustainable Development, a UN/UNESCO program.  

Can you determine what "sustainability" means from reading this piece?  It seems to mean anything and everything and encompasses all types of social issues that inserts public attitudes and values into personal and family life.  Fatal conceit.  Transformational, subversive education perpetrated on our youth from nursery school through college.  

Education for Sustainable Development Workshop Part II:

What is ESD? 

Rosalyn McKeown, Ph.D.
Portland State University 
Portland International Initiative for Leadership in EcologyLanguage and Culture 

Contributing to a More Sustainable Future: 
Quality Education, Life Skills and Education for Sustainable Development
By Rosalyn McKeown Published by UNESCO, 2005. 

Portland International Initiative for Leadership in Ecology, Culture, and Learning 
Graduate School of Education, Portland State University

The United Nations General Assembly 
declared 2005–2014 as the

U.N. Decade of Education
for Sustainable Development. 

What is education for sustainable development (ESD)? 

In Part I of this workshop, we had a brief introduction to the topic of sustainable development. Now
let’s look at education for sustainable development, which is referred to as ESD. 

Education for Sustainable Development . . .
  • is a key and vital element in moving sustainability forward.
  • will help people to pursue sustainable livelihoods, to continue to learn after they leave school, to participate in community life, and to live in a sustainable manner

What are the roles of education in sustainable development?

In terms of economic development:

  • To reduce poverty.
  • To facilitate development through creating an educated workforce that can move beyond a agricultural and extractive economies.
  • To help everyone do their job better by reducing environmental impact and creating more just and equitable workplaces.
To create wise consumers
In terms of society:
  • To raise social tolerance, equity, and justice.
  • To create life-long learners who can adapt to societal changes.
  • To reduce the population growth rate and the hardships and inequities that accompany rapid population growth. 

In terms of awareness: 

  • To raise the level of public understanding of sustainability.
  • To develop a voting citizenry knowledgeable about sustainability issues.
  • To enhance public support or demand to implement policies related to sustainability

In terms of community decision making:

  • To assist the public develop the skills to be engaged in the dialog about their future.
  • To assist citizens develop the skills to analyze local issues and propose and implement solutions. 
Education: Promise and Paradox

Education is conceptualized as a great hope for a more sustainable world. However, we know that the most educated nations leave the deepest ecological footprints. Clearly, simply educating citizenry to higher levels is not sufficient. 

Note the difference

  • Education about sustainable development is an awareness lesson or theoretical discussion.
  • Education for sustainable development is the use of education as a tool to transform our societies to achieve sustainability. 
More than an awareness lesson or a theoretical discussion is needed to move countries
toward a more sustainable future. 

The Strengths Model
ESD is such a large task that efforts from many people and disciplines are needed to make progress.
Elements of the Strengths Model:
  • Every discipline can contribute to ESD.
  • Every teacher can contribute to ESD.
  • Every administrator can contribute to ESD.
  • No one discipline should claim ownership of ESD. 

Reorienting Education
Question: How is education for sustainable development (ESD) different than the education we are currently providing our students?

Answer: An appropriately reoriented education includes more principles, skills, perspectives, and values related to sustainability than are currently included in most educational systems. 

  • An appropriate and relevant curriculum is reoriented to integrate environment, economy, and society.
  • The curriculum balances looking back to traditional ecological knowledge and looking forward to a more sustainable society.
  • Occurs at all levels - nursery school through university. 

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