The green Don Quixotes : values development of Education for Sustainable Development teachers

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Jacques, Christopher
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We, as a society, have been presented with a massive problem to solve. As the northern hemisphere (and increasingly parts of the southern hemisphere) continue efforts for economic growth, security, and personal comfort; topics of ecological damage, climate change, hunger, disease, poverty, exploitation, and war become more and more commonplace in our collective psyche. In order to find solutions, we must stop using old ways of thinking in favor of a ‘new story’, one that places humans within nature instead of in control over it. While top level efforts are important, even more critical to this topic are the people charged with teaching these new ideas, beliefs, and behaviors. The question that arises from this is, what are the beliefs and values of the teachers who are viewed as passionate or leaders in the field of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)? What have they learned or experienced that has led them to teach from an ecologically literate perspective and/or towards a greater understanding and acceptance of social responsibility? This study collects the stories and experiences of six high school science teachers and ESD practitioners currently working in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Stories were analyzed to discover: individual values and belief sets of teachers as well as their progression from childhood to novice teacher to ESD practitioner; and experiences that promoted currently held beliefs and values. As a result, the data shows ESD practitioners to be dedicated and committed individuals, whose values and attitudes stem directly from childhood experiences in nature coupled with parental/adult encouragement. From their stories and experiences, it is clear that successful implementation of values based ESD programs rests sole on the shoulders of the people asked to teach it.
Values, Ethics, ESD, Education