Sustainability Education in Elementary School

Beginning in the spring of 2017, I have had the good fortune of working with some amazing ASU Sustainability students.  Building on some pilot sessions last spring, these students have developed a year-long sustainability curriculum for third, fourth and fifth grade students at the International School of Arizona. I want to personally thank the ASU students – Julia Colbert, Kiriah Slagel, Hannah Lira, Haley Penny, and Megan Warner.  They have been industrious, inventive, and inspiring.  On the ISA side, the US curriculum instructors (Cristina Celaya,Deb Kahalewai, Kari Nehlsen, and Marlena Sypel) have created an atmosphere conducive for learning and students primed for this content.  It’s exciting to watch.  My role has been mainly to get out of the way.

These amazing students (both the ASU instructors and ISA pupils) started with the fundamentals of sustainability – the economic, environmental, and social pillars – and then took a deep dive into each.  They used student garden plots to demonstrate ecological principles and to link our individual and group behaviors between the social and ecological realms.

It seems that the concepts make intuitive sense to the students in ways that don’t always resonate quite so readily with adults.  Perhaps this is why books such as All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten continue to be so popular.  We know a great deal, but as we get busier and busier with our careers, our families, and our constant racing, we tend to forget some of the basics.

I look forward to continuing to learn from the children at ISA and my wonderful students at ASU.

Pictures to follow….

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