Teaching environmental and economic consciousness in the English language classroom: A concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
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This paper reports on a study that focused on how environmental and economic consciousness can be taught through the English language subject area. Environmental and economic consciousness is a competence that is often associated with geography or science subjects, and is also often incorporated when dealing with the concept of education for sustainable development (ESD). A teacher of English language, therefore, may not automatically think of a project linked with either that competence or the ESD concept. This study sets out to change that. Research work was done through a graduate diploma in education (Grad DE) programme with one of the student teachers on attachment (also called teaching practice) at an urban suburban school in Harare. It was during the teaching practice (TP) session, between May and August 2015, that this research was carried out with the student teacher and 51 students in form one. The methodology used was qualitative research with a project approach design. The results showed that the English language classroom is an ideal space for inculcating environmental and economic consciousness as a competence, and as an ESD concept. The learning process and experience led to a number of positive outcomes which were life-changing for the pupils and the student-teacher. Pupils started improving proficiency in English. Assessment of the student teacher’s teaching practice also indicated a transformation in her approach to teaching English language and she developed into a very confident teacher over-night. Teaching English language was no longer routine, but a vehicle through which knowledge on environmental and economic consciousness, as a concept of education for sustainable development (ESD) could be gained. Practical projects could be done with students to make them practise the language more, and contextually. Attitudes towards the environment started changing and skills were gained by both the student teacher and pupils and this would lead to sustained activities that promote the environment. Information was supplied by students who, with the assistance of the student teacher, evaluated the impact of their work on their lives and its influence on their education. A sample of what they said is included in this paper. The transformation was evident in the 2 Occasional Papers May 2017 student teacher who continued to promote education for sustainable development, and raising awareness on environmental and economic consciousness after completion of the diploma programme. Introduction This paper reports on a study that focused on how environmental and economic consciousness can be taught through the English language subject. Studying environmental and economic consciousness is often associated with geography or science subjects. It is also often incorporated when dealing with the concept of education for sustainable development (ESD). This author strongly believes that environmental and economic consciousness is a competence that can be taught and learned through the English language subject. The competence also incorporates the concept of education for sustainable development (ESD) in that once one is environmentally conscious, they may work hard to preserve it by the way they control behaviour that is likely to erode any environmental space. In addition, one would work hard to make that space economically viable through entrepreneurship to empower oneself. It was considered feasible to impart all these ideas through the English language classroom because that language is a vehicle of communication studied by every school learner in Zimbabwe. Therefore, it was thought logically possible for learners to be able to use this vehicle to study that competence (i.e., environmental and economic consciousness), and the ESD concept which is one of the ―cross-curricular themes‖ listed in the Handbook on Teacher Professional Standards, p. 6). In order to prove the veracity and workability of this idea, work was carried out with a pre-service teacher on a Graduate Diploma in Education (Grad DE) programme at the University of Zimbabwe. The author was the supervisor, overseeing the facilitation of learning by a form one class that the student teacher was teaching English language, incorporating the competence and the ESD concept.
Additional Citation InformationMoyana, R. and Chimanikire, E. (2017). Teaching environmental and economic consciousness in the English language classroom: A concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Harare: University of Zimbabwe, Human Resources Research Centre.
University of Zimbabwe, Human Resources Research Centre