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Title: Education for Sustainable Development : a comparison between two eco-schools, one in England and the other in South Africa
Author: Reed Johnson, Jo Anna
ISNI:       0000 0004 2676 0673
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2009
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The aim of this study was to examine the 'vision' for education for sustainable development (ESD); now being driven by UNESCO and the United Nations decade of education for sustainable development (DESD); and the 'reality' of ESD In practice In two eco-schools, in England and South Africa. I sought to present two cultural stories. The purpose of this study was to help In reducing collective Ignorance (N. Gough 2004) of ESD 'realities' In schools, to compare these 'realities' to the advocated 'visions', and to develop a mechanism through which to compare idiosyncratic cases through a common reporting structure based on aspects of communities of practice (Lave and Wenger 1991) and whole-school approaches (Shallcross 2006a, Shallcross et al. 2006). Current educational systems in many countries do not always allow schools to engage In pedagogies of participation (Lotz-Sisitka 2004, O'Donoghue and Lotz-Sisitka 2006), democratic styles of learning and critical thinking (Sterling 2003), which this study highlighted. The DESD and 'quality education' advocate these aspects of learning (ickling 1994). The DESD is a global Initiative with links to other United Nations (UN) Initiatives, such as Education for All (EFA) and the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Therefore it was Important the two eco-schools explored in this study were located in both a developed economy and an emerging one. The eco-schools, from England and South Africa, explored in this study were deemed to be engaging in 'good' ESD practice. The eco-schools programme provided a platform from which to explore two schools, and offered opportunities to examine the commonalities and tensions emerging that might help to facilitate 'sensitive' policy transfer (Phillips and Ochs 2004). Using critical interpretive case study, my role as a participant-observer allowed me to use traditional case study methods to tell the stories; to understand the activity taking place; to explore the structures, mechanisms and interrelationships; and to explore the use of language related to participatory, situated, critical pedagogies and whole-school approaches. This empirical data was generated whilst spending two and three months In each respective school. The cultural stories were contextualized through a review of the social, political and ESD in South Africa and England. The phenomena of ecoschool, whole-school ESD processes was subsequently explored through a sociocultural 'lens', taking a critical realist perspective to provide insights into the relationship between the 'reality' of ESD In practice, the 'vision' being set by the DESD so as to reveal the creative tensions (Senge 2006) and 'actualities' (Archer 2003).This study highlighted the emerging tensions of ESD being developed through the eco-schools programme in England and South Africa. Whilst ESD advocates more socio-constructivist approaches to learning modern schooling is predicated on more transmissive forms of learning. The eco-schools programme reinforces some aspects of transmission through its green flag assessment system and does not go far enough to promote the philosophy of ESD (critical thinking and socioparticipatory approaches to learning) and whole-school development, thus limiting agency. Whilst the two case study schools in this thesis, Sllkmore and St. Nicholas, offered some opportunities for situated learning to take place, particularly through their eco-clubs, only some aspects of whole-school approaches were being mobilised due to a lack of 'joined-up thinking' and the development of a systemic approach to localised Issues. Whilst there are numerous arguments over what ESD is there appears to be some consensus over the process of ESD, advocated by the DESD. However, the two case studies highlighted a significant discrepancy between the 'vision' for ESD and ESD in practice that relate to these tensions outlined above, and lack of understanding of what ESD Is to those engaged in practice at the school level. This has significant implications for 'school focused sustainable development' practice more generally.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available