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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Educating for the 21st century: advancing an ecologically sustainable society
Author(s): Ireland, Liza
Supervisor(s): Osborne, Michael
Keywords: education for sustainability, education for sustainable development, sustainability education, environmental education, metaphorical analysis, ecological/ mechanistic metaphors, whole school approaches, conceptual metaphors, case study research, pioneering approaches, bioregionalism, socio-political structure
Issue Date: Apr-2007
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Through case study research, two pioneering schools in Canada that developed whole-school approaches to education for sustainability were investigated to illuminate how conceptual root metaphors resonate with ecological philosophy and educational practices. The study considers philosophy, policy formation, organization/ management structures, buildings/ grounds and resources, curriculum development, and teaching and learning practices at each of these schools. The findings are highlighted and further informed by what the administrators, teachers, community volunteers, parents, and students perceive to be the successes, obstacles and needs they faced in trying to establish their pioneering approaches. These insights provided methodological triangulation as they reinforced the literature review and analysis of findings. The case study includes an Independent school founded and designed specifically around bioregionalism so as to promote sustainability, and a government-run elementary school that decided to teach and model sustainability. The analysis reveals differences in the underlying conceptual metaphors and the significant extent to which these metaphors resonated with practice. This research suggests that root conceptual metaphors are significant and can be associated with various intentions and enactments of the whole curriculum. Ecological and mechanistic metaphorical perspectives have been found to be associated with policy formation, organization and management structures, decision-making and communication; curriculum development; community involvement; changes to the buildings and grounds; and teaching/ learning practices. Although this research suggests that where ecological metaphors were in play school practices were more strongly associated with an ecological model in education for sustainability, it has also shown that this may not be sufficient. Being aware of the underlying conceptual root metaphors in all aspects of the educational approach is also a critical step. The context within which a school operates may preclude or act as a strong obstacle to change. Simply grafting a sustainability program imbued with ecological metaphors onto the accepted educational system, one founded on contradictory ‘mechanistic’ metaphors, may not be as effective as intended as metaphors seem to seep into the school’s culture and systems. This, however, implies that there needs to be freedom and room to challenge significant systemic obstacles. There would need to be noteworthy changes in the socio-political structure that is in play. Accordingly, for schools to lead the change towards an ecological worldview or paradigm shift, schools would need to be free to adopt an alternative vision of education, ethos and particular organizational structures.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Education

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