Reorienting Home Economics Teacher Education to address Education for Sustainable Development

McCloat, Amanda and Maguire, Helen (2008) Reorienting Home Economics Teacher Education to address Education for Sustainable Development. [Conference Proceedings]


The UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), 2005, highlights the need to reorient education towards participatory, process and solution-oriented methodologies which assist in the development of critical thinking. This action research project, funded by the Ubuntu Network and Irish Aid endeavours to reorient Home Economics teacher education in order to address ESD and to challenge assumptions regarding the integration of ESD themes in teacher education An educational intervention conducted with Year 1 pre service teachers aimed to promote improved awareness, attitudes and behaviours towards ESD themes and to positively influence future practice.Value of research in teaching & learning: Education is regarded as an important tool in addressing wider societal issues. Quality education can be a key agent of change; initiating, promoting and achieving sustainable development. Teacher education, particularly, can shape the knowledge, skills and attitudes of future generations thus creating a more sustainable world. Reorienting teacher education to integrated ESD themes must involve not merely curricular change. University teachers and researchers must actively and attentively assess knowledge and challenge assumptions, philosophies and frameworks in order to engage in critical discourse of current accepted practice.The project in question here provides an exemplar of innovation and change in higher education and demonstrates the integration of action research principles and methods into academic practice. It reveals the opportunities as well as challenges in this effort towards reorientation to participatory, process and solution-oriented methodologies. Such investigations link ESD and research, action and reflection with the ultimate goal of reorienting existing teacher education programmes towards facilitation of higher order thinking and skill development in order to influence future practice of teachers. The importance of reorienting programmes in higher education is apparent from this intervention which encouraged pre-service teachers to engage in critical dialogue on philosophical and ethical issues in relation to ESD themes.

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