Bringing Education for Sustainability to Local Classrooms
The Greater Burlington Sustainability Education Network recently celebrated the first official Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Week, April 13-21. Educators, students, nonprofits, government leaders and agencies, businesses, and community members worked and learned together throughout the week to build awareness of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We celebrated by bringing the goals to the classroom.
We spent the morning at Williston Central School, engaging in a visioning activity about healthy and just communities. All 80 third and fourth grade students began with an exploration of the 17 SDGs. When asked, “Which of the goals are most important to you?” students commented about achieving gender equity, reducing inequality, and providing clean water. In small groups, students reflected on and shared ideas about their ideal healthy and sustainable community. They collaboratively put pen to paper and drew maps of these elements. Sketches of parks, schools, and gardens filled their papers!
The conversations deepened as students considered equitable access to healthy food, generating electricity, disposal of waste and access to medical care. Many students commented that they didn’t think about it at first, but they now realize how essential schools are in communities!
When we think about education, it’s important that we consider the question, “What is education for?” As an educational organization, we propose the purpose is building awareness and capacities to create healthy and just communities. The SDGs offer us one lens or vantage point to view curriculum and connect to other communities around the globe to inquire about how we can move toward greater equity and health.