Is Learning for Turning?

//Is Learning for Turning?

Is Learning for Turning?

As we noted a couple of weeks ago, Stephen Sterling has a new website, and on this you’ll find his new blog.  We draw this to your attention because we think it will be something to watch as it develops over time.  It might even be his main mode of communication from now on.

Today, we point you to what Stephen says in his first blog post: Learning for Turning? by including an extract to whet your appetite for more.  Here it is.  Actually, it’s how the post ends:

So what of the role of education?  All education surely  – in some way – is concerned with, and equips learners for, the future.  So is not perhaps ironic that formal education systems on the whole have been long been slow – reluctant even – to recognise the extent, depth, implications and systemic nature of the profound changes that climate change and associated issues portend?   Likewise, slow to grasp critically important potential that education still has to shape the future positively and to counter threat.

A recent Anthropocene Review research paper (2018:15) suggests:

“Undoubtedly, a post-growth world will bring new challenges to education, but a successful transition in pedagogy will be instrumental in producing responsible citizens, cultivating social inclusion, and training leaders capable of guiding societies through difficult socio-ecological transitions.

So what is it to be: ‘learning for continuity’ – for ‘business as usual’ – which, ironically, will hasten the manifestation of  unprecedented social and economic dis-continuities?”

OR ‘learning for turning’ –  facing the unknown, bravely and boldly – exploring, testing, and facilitating the pathways and strategies that easing down, contraction and wellbeing may imply at individual, community and sector level?   The growing global educational response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an encouraging and very positive start, but there is yet a very long way to go.

Can education systems re-purpose themselves to bring foresight, skills, resources, deep inquiry and research, intelligence and even wisdom to bear on helping society through the difficult and extra-ordinary transitions that it will undoubtedly encounter, particularly the millennial and younger generations?   Because urgency requires agency, and that is something education can provide.

This is not ‘education for sustainable development’ (ESD), it is anticipative education, or ‘education for sustainable contraction and wellbeing’ and it has to become the rationale of education systems everywhere. (Oh dear, I feel another acronym coming on….ESCW. Sorry about that).

What did the key UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM,2016) policy report,  Education for people and planet : creating sustainable futures for all  say?:

“A huge transformation is needed if we are to create sustainable futures for all.”


The rest of this post is here.  We know that Stephen would like to hear from you (via the blog page) if you have thoughts about what he’s written.  We shall be keeping an eye on how this blog develops and drawing attention to future posts.


By | June 11th, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

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