What the Willow Teaches: Sustainability Learning as Craft
14 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2013
Date Written: January 11, 2013
The challenge for sustainability educators is to develop and maintain authority and confidence in an area dominated by limited knowledge and uncertainty. This paper suggests that the most empowering and authentic response is to adopt an approach of shared learning, but with the pedagogue demonstrating expertise and inspiration. I suggest that this is an approach to learning and teaching more familiar in areas of craft learning, characterised by apprenticeship and learning-by-doing. The paper relies heavily on the work of Richard Sennett in providing a sociological account of craft learning, which is then applied to the field of sustainability. I explore how his three modes of instruction — ‘sympathetic illustration,’ ‘narrative,’ and ‘metaphor’ — are being used in the field of sustainability education, and how these approaches might be developed. I conclude by suggesting that sustainability education is best undertaken within a community and in place, rather than abstractly and in the classroom.
Keywords: sustainability, sustainability education, craft learning, Richard Sennett
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