Schooling and environmental/sustainability education: from discourses of policy and practice to discourses of professional learning

Stevenson, Robert B. (2007) Schooling and environmental/sustainability education: from discourses of policy and practice to discourses of professional learning. Environmental Education Research, 13 (2). pp. 265-285.

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Abstract

The gap between policy rhetoric and school practices in environmental education has not only persisted but probably increased over the past twenty years, given the contested advent of education for sustainable development (ESD) as the dominant international policy discourse in this area, and an increased focus in schools on didactic teaching in traditional content areas resulting from narrowly defined accountability measures in many national educational policies. After examining changes and continuities in the discourse of environmental education/ESD and the policy contexts of schools over the past twenty years, this article argues for re‐conceptualising the rhetoric–practice gap such that practices in schools are not simply assessed in relation to policy discourse but policy discourse itself is re‐examined in relation to teachers' practical theories and the contexts shaping their practices. Although the structures and norms of schooling continue to work against inquiry‐based action‐oriented environmental education practices, several emerging trends are identified that can offer promising spaces or opportunities. Drawing on what we know about the power of professional communities to contribute to teacher learning, the article concludes with a call for constructing discourses of professional learning that reflexively build, sustain and develop such spaces and opportunities for enacting meaningful environmental education in schools. Such a discourse and approach, it is argued, can move the focus from educators’ implementation of environmental education (as expressed in the policy discourse) to building their normative and technical capacity, both individually and collectively, to shape practice.

Item ID: 19475
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1469-5871
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2011 01:22
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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