Towards a pedagogy of hope
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Education for Sustainability (EfS) is increasingly being recognised as an essential dimension of quality education in the 21st Century. However, it is common for EfS to be framed around a narrative of multiple points of global crisis. This stems from an awareness that our children today are growing up in the midst of manifold threats to wellbeing, in both human and environmental terms, as articulated by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Whilst recognising this problem-based and challenge-led imperative for EfS, our chapter argues for the importance of an alternative starting point in the early years. EfS, we propose, needs to be appropriately scaled to the lifeworlds of our children and to be agency-based and appreciation-led. The early years practitioner has a vital and exciting role to play in helping to nurture in young citizens ways of being that enable them to participate in the creation of more sustainable futures in their everyday lives. This needs to be contextualised in a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of the natural world of which they are a part. This chapter will therefore present an approach to EfS that seeks to highlight the importance of providing a pedagogy of hope; with compassion and creativity at its heart. In so doing we draw from a case study of a pioneering primary school that is seeking to embody such an approach and that is highlighting the leading role early years practitioners can play in this vital area of educational reform.
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