- Schools For a Sustainable Future
synergy vol 1 issue 1
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Inspiring change for the whole community
They realise, more than most, that their child may one day experience - first-hand - poor air, water and food quality, lack of wilderness and wild creatures, and other signs of a planet under extreme stress. It's a severe picture, but a realistic one -and to ignore it is to risk our common well-being.
Environmental education - particularly of our young ones, who will eventually be our leaders - is a key factor in changing the direction of our current society. Environmental education is critical in helping children to understand and connect with the world that supports them.
Good environmental education achieves three main things:
good environmental education tells a child that
Further, environmental education has the potential to achieve widespread community change - not just when children grow and enter the adult world, but right now. Al Gore, U.S. Vice-President and author of Earth in the Balance, writes in the November 1997 edition of Time magazine:
The potential for environmental education to immediately catalyse change in the wider community is immense. As schools end up living the ideals they teach, so children o - and so do their parents. Their parents are business people, Councilors, office workers, teachers, cleaners, salespeople - all people who have the capacity to implement both small and large changes in their daily lives. Personal practice moves, inevitably, into the public sphere. Whoever said that we are doomed to extinction? If everyone plays their part - and everyone can, with education and awareness - then we have a good chance of turning our society around.
Practical activities give environmental issues a place in a world of action. Learning through practice helps children embed theoretical knowledge within the "big picture" of life and nature. If we ignore this larger context, it can result in a dangerous gap in our children's comprehension of the world around them. Integrating theory with practice, and ecology with everyday life, are crucial steps in helping children develop a holistic - and realistic - view of the world.
A Sustainable Future
Schools For a Sustainable Future ran throughout 1997 in twelve Victorian metropolitan schools, with support from six councils and the EPA (Environment Protection authority). The project was officially launched on October 10th last year to an audience of over one hundred guests from schools, the business community and local councils. The launch brought together the achievements of the SFSF and its participating schools, giving an impressive display of what can be achieved with inspiration and effort.
Why is SFSF valuable for schools?
Schools For a Sustainable Future assists schools to become leaders in tackling our environmental problems. Through uniting the entire range of environmental issues under a common, action-oriented theme - creating a Sustainable Future - schools are able to focus their efforts and become more effective.
SFSF wants to see schools recognised in the community for their initiative in addressing environmental issues. A prominent Schools For a Sustainable Future billboard clearly demonstrates your school's leadership in educating for our future - so your local community becomes well aware of your school's environmental activities. Publicity of your project in Synergy and in local newspapers also assists this goal.
A major aim of SFSF is to help schools raise funds to undertake their environmental projects. Being an SFSF school helps to attract sponsorship from local business and the community Additionally, SFSF has a range of fundraising opportunities of which schools can take advantage.
A major aim of Schools For a Sustainable Future is to encourage a community ethos where environmental issues are given the attention they deserve, and where solutions to our problems are pursued cooperatively. To this end, SFSF encourages business, government and community groups to be involved by providing funds, skills and knowledge to educate our children.
SFSF particularly encourages environmentally-aware businesses - big and small - to become involved. It is these people which are taking on the challenge of undertaking profitable and ethical operations, which must be nurtured if we are to see the emergence of a strong business culture which seriously addresses our environmental predicament.
Parents, too, are encouraged to be involved in SFSF - after all, it is your children that the project aims to help educate! Your position as parents is an influential one - for in the end, your child's school is accountable to you. Creating a parent group which focuses on assisting your child's school to implement environmental activities is a good place to start. Ringwood Heights Primary School, for example, has a parent group called 'The Frog Group', which has played an important role in assisting the school with its sustainability projects
It's YOUR project!
Schools For a Sustainable Future is your project - and it needs your help and support to reach its full potential. E.F. Schumacher, author of the classic. 'Small is Beautiful', here captures the spirit SFSF aims to encourage.
"Can we rely on it that a "turning around" will be accomplished by enough people quickly enough to save the modern world? This question is often asked, but no matter what the answer, it will mislead. The answer "Yes" would lead to complacency, the answer "No" to despair. It is desirable to leave these perplexities behind us and get down to work".
Becoming involved with Schools For a Sustainable Future is a practical way of contributing to projects which can encouage a sustainable future for us and our children.
The following pages outline the benefits and opportunities for schools, businesses, councils, environment education groups and parents who are interested in participating in SFSF.
© 2000 Schools for a Sustainable Future