Teacher perceptions and self-reported practices of Education for Sustainability in the early years of primary school: An Australian case study

Michelle Lasen, Keith Skamp, Kym SIMONCINI

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    Abstract

    This Australian case study provides a snapshot of Education for Sustainability (EfS) practice of early years teachers in the school sector (Preparatory to Year 3), during the first phase of implementation of the Australian national curriculum. Interviews with teachers, located in government, Catholic and independent schools, were conducted by pre-service teachers as a part of their professional experience coursework requirements. Forty-three interview transcripts were collated in these qualitative analyses in order to explore: why teachers considered that EfS had been identified as a cross-curriculum priority in the national curriculum; how teachers implemented EfS in their classrooms; and the barriers that they experienced in implementation. The teachers perceived EfS to be highly relevant to their students, with a view to future participation in society, workplaces, leadership and lifelong learning. While the majority of teachers reported intentionally planning and implementing learning experiences that addressed aspects of EfS, the key barrier from their perspective was a crowded curriculum, with emphasis on literacy and numeracy performance. Findings reveal that ongoing professional learning is required for teachers to develop pedagogies that can promote students' critical and action-oriented engagement, with community partners, in local socioecological issues of relevance, whether in urban, rural or remote locales.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-20
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational Journal of Early Childhood
    Volume49
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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    Curriculum
    primary school
    sustainability
    Education
    Learning
    teacher
    education
    Interviews
    Students
    curriculum
    Workplace
    professional experience
    lifelong learning
    interview
    school
    learning
    Teacher Training
    workplace
    student
    literacy

    Cite this

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    abstract = "This Australian case study provides a snapshot of Education for Sustainability (EfS) practice of early years teachers in the school sector (Preparatory to Year 3), during the first phase of implementation of the Australian national curriculum. Interviews with teachers, located in government, Catholic and independent schools, were conducted by pre-service teachers as a part of their professional experience coursework requirements. Forty-three interview transcripts were collated in these qualitative analyses in order to explore: why teachers considered that EfS had been identified as a cross-curriculum priority in the national curriculum; how teachers implemented EfS in their classrooms; and the barriers that they experienced in implementation. The teachers perceived EfS to be highly relevant to their students, with a view to future participation in society, workplaces, leadership and lifelong learning. While the majority of teachers reported intentionally planning and implementing learning experiences that addressed aspects of EfS, the key barrier from their perspective was a crowded curriculum, with emphasis on literacy and numeracy performance. Findings reveal that ongoing professional learning is required for teachers to develop pedagogies that can promote students' critical and action-oriented engagement, with community partners, in local socioecological issues of relevance, whether in urban, rural or remote locales.",
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