|A Transformative Learning Model for Sustainability|
|Friday, 16 January 2009 20:22|
Written by Christine Kelly, PhD.
MRCSE Workshop Coorindator
All too often the perceived urgency and importance of our message hampers the skills of even the best of sustainability and environmental educators to be just that—educators. In our rush and excitement to foster change we transmit rather than transform. Nowhere is this more evident than at our own professional conferences and workshops where we gather as professionals to discuss and grow our field and the sustainability movement as a whole.
A new model of communication and learning is needed as we interact as peers, as we connect with our constituents, and as we attempt to reach out to those who are reluctant to engage with us in our effort to change society. Stephen Sterling, author of Sustainable Education, believes that there are three orders of learning and change. First order learning, “accommodation,” is an adaptive learning that leaves basic values unexamined and unchanged (most direct instruction presentations only achieve accommodation at best). Second order learning, “reformation,” involves critically reflective learning and leads to reforming existing paradigms. Third order learning, “transformation,” happens when we are able to see things differently. Transformative learning is a creative, participative, and holistic process that ultimately gives rise to new perspectives and innovations. The opportunity (and some might say crisis) of sustainability requires second and third order learning.
Today we are challenged to create a different future—one in which all can thrive and flourish. If we are to be successful, every individual must be a creator, innovator and steward of this future. We can no longer function as silos focused on optimizing our own piece of the puzzle. We must engage in new ways of thinking and being. We must build a shared understanding and a larger vision. We must write a new cultural narrative that brings forth a new world through shared stories. The wellspring of this new narrative ultimately lies in our capacity as individuals and communities to imagine – to freely imagine a future rooted in the real world yet capable of giving birth to that which does not yet exist.
Many communities are already in the process of imagining and writing a new cultural narrative by which to live—a story of sustainability. The power of such a story is great. It can crystallize an idea, mobilize behavior, and create momentum for massive social change. But this kind of story can only emerge from a collaborative community effort committed to creating a new narrative that brings forth our true self in communion with others. This new narrative has the power to transform how we think about and imagine our world. For a paradigm shift is actually a shift in a culture’s stories. It becomes visible when we become the stories we tell.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 01 February 2009 18:45|