Even a cursory review of the principles of environmental educationas proposed

Even a cursory review of the principles of

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Even a cursory review of the principles of environmental education—as proposed by the Tbilisi 1977 Conference (UNESCO 1980 ) and subsequently confirmed at the Moscow 1987 Congress (UNEP 1987 ), the Thessaloniki 1997 Conference (Scoullos 1998 ) and reproposed as Education for Sustainable Development (UNESCO 2005 )—shows a striking similarity with the educational objectives of technology education particularly if its focus of action revolves around the integration of economic, social and environmental perspectives. Through ESD principles on the one hand, technology education dealt with issues that were more relevant to the learner’s environment making the learning experiences of central importance to the learner and enhancing motivation. On the other hand, through tech- nology education, ESD ensured its place in the curriculum. This might not seem such a great achievement in countries where ESD’s inclusion in educational programs is man- datory by national policies. However, in countries where this is still not the case, this symbiotic infusion of ESD in the curriculum offers a tangible (and at times the only) access route for ESD principles in formal education. What follows is a reflection of how this symbiotic infusion was specifically achieved in the examples proposed. All case studies were characterized by the presentation of problem-solving situations (a basic feature of technology education), but the significant difference was the type of problem chosen by the course designers. Rather than opting for ‘textbook’ problems characterized by ‘typical’ solutions, course designers opted for problems related to Education for sustainable development 161 123
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sustainable development. By their very nature, being set within a social-economic-envi- ronmental framework, such problems demand a holistic treatment and ‘design & make’ takes on a whole new perspective that is more in line with reality. Within the safe confines of their learning program, students were provided with opportunities to face the dilemmas that developers have to face in their day-to-day work and learn (first hand) what taking sustainable decisions involves and the implications of such decisions. Working with these open-ended problems encouraged students to explore and use a range of disciplines and processes with the aim of finding the most suitable solution. Besides responding to a variety of different students’ learning styles and needs, this methodology promotes flexibility and reflection on the adequacy of the decisions made concerning design and manufacture. Inherent in this methodology is the stimulus urging students to think and act outside the box, hence refuting accepted norms of unsustainable behavior as possible ways forward. Preparing students in this manner is an investment in a workforce that, while working within certain parameters, believes that sustainable devel- opment is a viable option.
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