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School as a place for Education for Sustainable development

March 13, 2018
Reut School is an elementary school which demonstrates the practicability of ESD in schools. During the visit to elementary school we visited several stations demonstrating school's compliance with sustainable development. The school focuses on green environment. All the elements of the school surroundings are made of recycled materials. This reflects school's orientation to sustainable development. Through usage of handmade materials students create crafty figures outside and apply them during Math classes. This a kind of integrated approach to studying a subject. 

Students take out the litter themselves. That is quite unusual for most of the countries. It promotes students' responsibility for the environment and they also become aware how to sort the litter. This is built form special lesson where the students are taught about litter, how to handle and how to dispose. A counter check confirmed the behavior as sustainable as the practice is not limited to the class but extends home.

The school also has a great collaboration of parents in the learning process. One of the examples is a decoration tree on the school's wall containing values. Values are complex hence teaching them present hurdles as they are supposed to be dispositional and influence behavior change. Exposing learning to values in schools could be half the picture as the engage in the community and home. To facilitate catching of values Reut elementary has reached out and engaged the community in working collaboratively in identifying the values that define them and how they maintain the values. This has culminated in Values wall that was designed collaboratively between learners, parents and the teachers. The wall is constant reminder to all of the values they espouse which are exhibited by the dispositions. The tree also highlights that it is important not to spoil what you are doing. This is a motto for the school. 



Learning resources are diverse and could be farfetched depending on how they are planned. One of the innovation has been field visit where learners are taken out to be to learn by visiting parks, zoos, farms. Reut elementary school from Ein Shemer Hefa Israel had reversed that status by creating a zoo in the school and furthermore giving responsibility for the learners to take care of the animals. The resource is not restricted to the school but acts as a resource center to 15 other nearby school. The resource also is a rescue center for injured or abandoned animals. The zoo experience is connected to the learning experience in class this included feeding the animals and taking care of them. The zoo learning idea has become part and parcel of the school pedagogy. This is a great idea as it allows the learners to connect to learn some skills which are transferable at home where they keep pets. It’s also a therapeutic center for disturbed or learners at risk. Such a noble idea might face unique challenges when implemented in different contexts. But it’s advisable to start small, have a clear shared vision, empowered stakeholders and a linked curriculum. However, if implemented well the returns are impactful as it influences the knowledge, skills, competencies, values and attitudes of learning.


  

The school is a great place for teaching and upbringing the future generation compassionate for sustainable development. The school feels like a devoted area where each of the element is filled with sustainability. The school has a string outdoor learning experience. Imagine in a science lesson the teacher provides a photo of edible shrubs, herbs and leaves with descriptions and you are asked to go out there and identify them. The lesson unfolds with identification of the species and a round table discussion of what was found. Finally, the lesson ends with a salad of what was found in the field. That is what Reut elementary schools does. More so the school have special session of mixed groups student doing outdoor classes. This allow the student to develop peer teaching skills as well as get to know each other across classes. The lesson is model is a problem-based approach where the students are given a challenge and support and they solve it during that lesson.  In the figure the problem was to identify butterfly eggs and deduce why the butterfly laid eggs in such flowers or plants. This approach is something that can be applied in the different countries in this cohort.   Empowering learners is a critical element as it would make the problem solvers now and in the future.

The school gets maximum out of children. Hands on experiences is being practiced. Each teacher is being engrossed in making students learn through practices. Principal’s leadership is being well received by all teachers.

 

The passion and enthusiasm of teachers and students are participating in ESD is amazing. It started by the warm manner the group was received.

Visiting Ein Shemer Green House

The greenhouse is considered as a kind of informal learning for school students. One more peculiarity of the greenhouse is that it teaches students from Jewish and Arabic schools together that is quite not typical for Israel. The greenhouse has strong collaboration with companies. It invites engineers from different companies for delivering lectures and demonstrating in practice. Some of the project include Sustainable agriculture, hydroponics, drip, soil desalination mushrooms, non-sticky dripping pipes and algae projects by learners from Year 6 from Reut elementary Ein Shemer Hefa Israel spending two hours week at the green house in collaboration with companies solving innovating agricultural approaches. Schools, Industries and Kibuttz work in collaboration. You can’t imagine huge industries engaging learners who are coming up with innovation fed back to the industry. The patent issues do not exist it’s knowledge sharing and collaboration… The power of schools. Sustainable agriculture, hydroponics, drip, soil desalination mushrooms, non-sticky dripping pipes and algae projects by learners from Year 6 spending two hours week at the green house in collaboration with companies solving innovating agricultural approaches. Schools, Industries and Kibbutz work in collaboration. You can’t imagine huge industries engaging learners who are coming up with innovation fed back to the industry. The patent issues do not exist its knowledge sharing and collaboration. The power of schools. The green house appears firstly not as a school but as a huge hangar. But inside one realized that it is a place where laboratory work and research are combined for innovations. Also, the center functioned by cooperating with schools and enterprises. But it appears that to develop such skills they need financing which is provided by partners (schools, donors, etc.). Good concept but very expensive.



Schools Sights and Sights are a combination that can provide a rich practical learning that could be enabling to facilitate the immersion of what education towards sustainable development is all about. Seeing is believing, trying out in deepening and reflecting on the experience is deepening the learning for potential transfer. The crack of the matter is contextualizing the experience and adapting it to the different context represents in the teams. But the success will be measured by the ability to transfer the skill into competencies by application and reaching out to others and preparing them so that the reach of the knowledge is multiplied, and the impact amplified.