Engaging with the SDGs schools: models and ingredients for successful practice
A new article with this title is now available on the #TeachSDGs website here: http://www.teachsdgs.org/1/post/2017/09/engaging-with-the-sdgs-in-uk-schools-models-and-ingredients-for-successful-practice.html
Common themes emerging from #TeachSDG activities in schools
There are a number of key elements to most SDG-related activities highlighted here:
First, the SDG framework is often used as the starting point to engage students, school leaders, and other staff. It is also used as a framework to map what sort of global learning activity is already going on in the school – locating other projects, curriculum subjects, teachers, students and community or business links that are already addressing some of the SDG goals.
Second, the core values of the SDGs are often linked to schools’ pre-existing values and ethos statements. Schools that aim to achieve a broad and balanced school curriculum regularly make reference to human rights, wellbeing and/or responsible action (example here[i]), and the SDGs link easily to these
Third, the idea of a global learning ‘journey’ is often at the heart of approaches to engagement with the SDGs in schools – especially those that build in models of behaviour or attitudinal change, and knowledge development. As mentioned elsewhere, a key opportunity of engaging with the SDGs is that students and teachers are on a fairly equal footing when it comes to prior knowledge of the SDGs[ii].
We are all on a SDG learning journey, whatever our age or nationality, some of us will be finding out about them for the first time whilst others will be already embedding them in practice and moving to action. It is therefore helpful to reflect upon where we are on the learning journey for different aspects of #TeachSDGs work – nb processes are rarely linear or hierarchical as the infographic here might imply.
Fourth, a number of schools have found that the SDGs provide a useful framework for bringing in more complex or controversial local or national issues into the classroom. Although this merits an entire book in itself, issues relating to racism, xenophobia, islamophobia, hate-crime, terrorism, gender inequality, and local poverty (topics often brought up by students themselves) can be addressed through the SDGs in that they can support helpful, distancing pedagogic strategies.
Finally, many methods of engagement with the SDGs in schools are aligned to critical thinking and the need to promote associated pedagogies like critical literacy and critical numeracy. For example, some schools involved in global learning in the UK have worked with Philosophy frameworks such as SAPERE’s P4C.
What follows is one attempt to summarise six successful models of #TeachSDGs practice taking place in some UK Primary, Middle and Secondary schools. The list is not exhaustive and lacks nuances, but it might be of use to others. I look forward to developing it as I learn more about other practices around the world.
[i] For example, three of Downlands Community School’s five vision statements neatly map on to the SDGS:
Respect and value the environment around us, the views of all members of the community and the contributions made by every individual.
Ensure that through innovation and creativity, our independent lifelong learners will be ready for 21st century society and the challenges it brings.
Educate our students socially and emotionally to develop into responsible members of the community who value diversity in a local and global context.
[ii] In fact a recent @MYWorld2030 survey found that youth around the world are more familiar with the SDGs than older generations