It has been for decades since sustainability was introduced in educational curricula to raise students’ awareness on how to fulfill their needs while leaving a healthy, nourishing environment for the coming generations to live in. Yet it hasn’t been for a very long time that sustainability was introduced to educators themselves to embrace and play an effective role in implementing its pillars.
Being part of a backbone system like the educational system, it is amazing how we find ourselves being involved in one way or another in a structure that supports all aspects of sustainability.
In this article, I would love to share how I find the capability of educators to support all three pillars of sustainability.
So, what are these pillars, and how can the education system support them?
Pillar One: Environmental Sustainability
When we step back and take a look at the catastrophic problems attacking our environment, we feel weak and helpless to make any change. Nevertheless, when we realize that even the smallest caring acts can make a difference, we gain great hope that there is a place to start from. As educators, we have an opportunity to both educate and apply “green” actions!
There are many methods to support environmental sustainability inside the school. This might include:
- Reducing paper consumption
- Reducing plastic usage (water bottles, cutlery.)
- Encouraging the use of second-hand books
- Controlling the food supplied in the school canteen to be healthy and not exceeding students’ needs to avoid food waste.
While some topics cannot be applied to school campuses, we can still highlight them for the students to realize that in their daily-life acts, they always have a choice to support their environment. This might include:
- Choosing biodegradable shopping bags
- Reducing the consumption of water and electricity
- Garbage separation and recycling and similar issues.
Pillar Two: Social Sustainability
Healthy communities are those that make sure that human rights and cultural aspects are respected. This, too, can be merged into our daily school life. It can be supported by:
- Encouraging students to speak up for themselves.
- Giving students the chance to argue and defend their own points of view.
- Emphasizing the cultural values according to each society through activities, videos or competitions.
Pillar Three: Economic Sustainability
While the first two pillars seem to relate to education directly, this pillar possesses a different yet challenging aspect. Thinking of sustainability as creating opportunities for the coming generations, we understand how important it is to give students the chance to build their business character.
While we experience fast changes in supply and demand in all jobs, and with globalization that gives opportunity to multinational competition in all fields, in my opinion, our curricula can be more focused on personal skills rather than solid basic information. As teachers, we can give our students a chance to be exposed to presenting, debating, discussing and time-managing skills. Moreover, in order to build a strong weaponed generation to face economic challenges, students should understand the importance of diversifying income and building an entrepreneurial mindset. We can help as teachers by growing their leadership and independence skills.
Finally, as educators, teachers, mothers or as simple yet effective citizens, let’s take responsibility for keeping this world healthy, sound and safe for our beloved children and many more generations to come!
Amani Kamal Hamdan
I believe in the power of knowledge and challenge! We always have the chance to choose, and we shall not fear choosing any change because of lack of knowledge but instead, we can, until the last breath, learn new things and develop ourselves!
Though I hold a Master’s degree in Electric Power Engineering, I only practiced engineering for around three years in Beirut. Then I moved to Qatar to be enrolled in the education sector. After 10 years as a Physics teacher for secondary classes, I’ve been recently assigned to hold the department coordination responsibility. Aside from class duties and professional development workshops, I gained lots of experience by participating in the Scientific Research Yearly Competition held in Qatar, where I had the chance to submit new creative studies and inventions with my students. In this career, I had the chance to develop new skills regarding management, teamwork, creativity, accepting others and improving my knowledge.
Recently, I have been interested in developing wider knowledge on financial education as well.
On the other hand, I am a grateful mom of two lovely kids who look up to their parents as an idol, and this creates a great challenge for us to be the best version of ourselves to be an example our kids will be proud of.
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