Education for Sustainability

The Curriculum Council engaged in a 2-day retreat in support of the strategic priority of Connection: Caring for our Community and Planet. 
In partnership with Jaimie Cloud from The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education and Burke’s administrators, members of the Curriculum Council including six Lower School and six Upper School teachers are developing new K-8 curricular units through the lens of sustainability for education. The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education was founded in 1995 as a program of The American Forum for Global Education known as the Sustainability Education Center. At its heart, sustainability for education is future-oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action.

On the first day, Burke’s educators focused on learning specific mental models and behaviors that can contribute to sustainable outcomes. They began the session in small groups playing The Fish Game, a simulation that invites players to 'go fishing' with the object of each game being to “have as many fish as possible by the end of 10 rounds.” It’s an eye-opening experience that teaches system dynamics, ecological principles, and responsible citizenship. 

On the second day of the retreat, teachers began to design and plan their units, as well as establish a year-long trajectory for their work. Projects will be cross-disciplinary and collaborative — as one example the Lower School Makery Facilitator, Science, Art and Library Specialists have a unit in the works for the first grade.   

All the units will be developed using these  9 different core content standards:

  • the preservation of cultural histories and heritages and the transformation of cultural identities and practices;
  • the rights, responsibilities, and actions associated with local and global leadership and citizenship;
  • the dynamics of systems and change; 
  • sustainable economics; 
  • healthy commons upon which we all depend and for which we are all responsible;
  • natural laws and ecological principles;
  • the vital role of vision, imagination, and intention in creating a desired future; 
  • the perspectives, life experiences, and cultures of ourselves and others;
  • and a strong connection of place. 

Fran Yang, the Director of Curriculum and Innovation, is excited about the endless possibilities to embed these standards across the curriculum and  says, “I am thrilled to launch this work with such dedicated Burke’s educators who are as passionate as I am about providing learning opportunities for students that prioritize and support education for sustainability.” 

The future of Burke’s has never looked more green! Go Trees! 
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