Connective Practices in Sustainability Education
Connective practices are affective educational activities and critical for sustainability education. They bridge the gap between knowledge of environmental problems and the will, personally, to do something about them. Three sources of pedagogic theory are tapped for this application to sustainability education. From Deep Ecology comes the pedagogic ladder leading to recognition of the Ecological Self, the deep intuitive appreciation of being a part of the living Earth. The Connective Practice concept comes from Social Sculpture and the provocative artistic and political work of Joseph Beuys, whose notion of participatory ‘response-ability’ envisages actions that unleash the positive creative potential of every individual. For Beuys, everyone is an ‘artist’ and everyone can become a world-maker. Finally, Invitational Education adds concern for the learner’s inner being. Learning invitations aim to remove the obstacles that hold learners back from positive creativity. It also fosters learner engagement by developing the positive aspects of the whole learning environment, building care trust, respect, and optimism from the sum of people, places, processes, programs and policies. Two case studies illustrate the task of inviting learners to develop pro-sustainability values and affirm them by a personal creative response. In the ‘Karma to Climate Change’ project, scriptural quotations and environmental information combine to invite learners to make a personal religious pledge to adopt a (slightly) more pro-sustainability lifestyle. In the ‘Restoration of Wychwood Forest’ project, learners join local community volunteers to plant trees and later reflect on the wider personal significance of their enacting sustainability values.
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