Exploring the Impacts of Student-Led Sustainability Projects with Secondary School Students and Teachers

Vare, Paul ORCID: 0000-0003-3182-9105 (2021) Exploring the Impacts of Student-Led Sustainability Projects with Secondary School Students and Teachers. Sustainability, 13 (5). p. 2790. doi:10.3390/su13052790

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Abstract

Secondary school students are granted few opportunities to change their world, yet they are expected to engage fully as citizens the moment they leave school. This issue is growing starker with multiple global crises contributing to mental health concerns. This situation stimulated a practical education for sustainability project designed to promote student agency by supporting small, student‐led, community‐based projects, planned and supported within the secondary school context. This research ran alongside the project in order to investigate (a) the impact of implementing these projects on the students involved and (b) the implications of this for their teachers. The research approach was based on Cultural‐historical Activity Theory, which explores the learning generated through multi‐layered interactions within a given activity system. In stimulating student agency, it was clear that the project had challenged existing practice. Students sensed a shift in power relations, remarking on how teachers respected and listened to their opinions. Those teachers who appeared more authoritarian appeared to experience the greatest transformation although ceding power did not come naturally, particularly where this challenged notions around teacher responsibility. In this way, teachers’ professionalism threatened to become the means by which they withheld power from their students. Implications of this for schools and policy are considered.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Student agency; teacher agency; activity theory; education for sustainable development; secondary schools
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education & Humanities > Education
Research Priority Areas: Learning and Professional Contexts
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2021 10:50
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2021 11:28
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/9441

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