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Activating primary school learners : sustainability education in South Africa

Ercan, Ezgi LU (2012) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM01 20121
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Although education is considered as one of the most effective approaches in terms of addressing sustainability challenges and formulating solutions, traditional education methods remain inadequate in this regard. This is because these methods are based on passive and teacher-centred approaches to learning. In this context, the experiential education and active learning framework, grounded in John Dewey’s constructivism and pragmatism, is an alternative to traditional educational approaches, emphasizing student participation and supporting praxis.

This qualitative research aims to evaluate the impacts of an experiential and active learning framework on learner’s knowledge of local and global sustainability challenges. This has been... (More)
Although education is considered as one of the most effective approaches in terms of addressing sustainability challenges and formulating solutions, traditional education methods remain inadequate in this regard. This is because these methods are based on passive and teacher-centred approaches to learning. In this context, the experiential education and active learning framework, grounded in John Dewey’s constructivism and pragmatism, is an alternative to traditional educational approaches, emphasizing student participation and supporting praxis.

This qualitative research aims to evaluate the impacts of an experiential and active learning framework on learner’s knowledge of local and global sustainability challenges. This has been undertaken through fieldwork conducted in cooperation with the South African Eco-Schools Programme. The main focus of the study is at the primary school level, primarily Grades 6 – 7. Data has been collected through semi-structured and unstructured interviews with teachers, educators, learners and academics, as well as observations of workshops, learning activities and school grounds. A review of relevant documentation, including school portfolios and Eco-School documents, was also undertaken.

Research results demonstrate that the South African education system still experiences major problems in providing a quality education for all learners, due mainly to existing socio-economic problems. It was found that teacher guidance was crucial to the success of education for sustainability, especially in the context of significant social problems such as poverty, HIV/AIDS and resulting high percentage of orphans in schools, as well as limited resources for learning. Therefore, the Deweyan paradigm, which is grounded in learner-centred concepts and considers teachers only as facilitators, might be applicable elsewhere in South African context, however cannot be considered as an efficient approach within the scope of the study. Further, findings indicated that classroom education, which incorporates real-life stories and narratives, followed by active involvement and experiments, give the best education results, in relation with learning local and global sustainability challenges. Significantly, the major contribution of experiential and active learning approaches in South African primary schools is to an improvement in the quality of basic education, especially with regard to basic skills such as literacy and numeracy. (Less)
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author
Ercan, Ezgi LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM01 20121
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
environment, active learning, eco-schools, experiential education, John Dewey, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2012:005
language
English
id
2789773
date added to LUP
2012-06-20 18:25:30
date last changed
2012-11-26 10:21:35
@misc{2789773,
  abstract     = {Although education is considered as one of the most effective approaches in terms of addressing sustainability challenges and formulating solutions, traditional education methods remain inadequate in this regard. This is because these methods are based on passive and teacher-centred approaches to learning. In this context, the experiential education and active learning framework, grounded in John Dewey’s constructivism and pragmatism, is an alternative to traditional educational approaches, emphasizing student participation and supporting praxis. 

This qualitative research aims to evaluate the impacts of an experiential and active learning framework on learner’s knowledge of local and global sustainability challenges. This has been undertaken through fieldwork conducted in cooperation with the South African Eco-Schools Programme. The main focus of the study is at the primary school level, primarily Grades 6 – 7. Data has been collected through semi-structured and unstructured interviews with teachers, educators, learners and academics, as well as observations of workshops, learning activities and school grounds. A review of relevant documentation, including school portfolios and Eco-School documents, was also undertaken. 

Research results demonstrate that the South African education system still experiences major problems in providing a quality education for all learners, due mainly to existing socio-economic problems. It was found that teacher guidance was crucial to the success of education for sustainability, especially in the context of significant social problems such as poverty, HIV/AIDS and resulting high percentage of orphans in schools, as well as limited resources for learning. Therefore, the Deweyan paradigm, which is grounded in learner-centred concepts and considers teachers only as facilitators, might be applicable elsewhere in South African context, however cannot be considered as an efficient approach within the scope of the study. Further, findings indicated that classroom education, which incorporates real-life stories and narratives, followed by active involvement and experiments, give the best education results, in relation with learning local and global sustainability challenges. Significantly, the major contribution of experiential and active learning approaches in South African primary schools is to an improvement in the quality of basic education, especially with regard to basic skills such as literacy and numeracy.},
  author       = {Ercan, Ezgi},
  keyword      = {environment,active learning,eco-schools,experiential education,John Dewey,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Activating primary school learners : sustainability education in South Africa},
  year         = {2012},
}