Beyond the ‘green bling’: identifying contradictions encountered in school sustainability programmes and teachers’ responses to them

Vare, Paul ORCID: 0000-0003-3182-9105 (2020) Beyond the ‘green bling’: identifying contradictions encountered in school sustainability programmes and teachers’ responses to them. Environmental Education Research, 26 (1). pp. 61-80. doi:10.1080/13504622.2019.1677859

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As schools seek to implement frameworks of education for sustainable development it is inevitable that they will encounter contradictions between their own aspirations and external demands. To analyse these contradictions through the lens of teachers-in-context, this research uses Cultural-historical Activity Theory that views schools as activity systems and reveals contradictions within those systems. Interviews with teachers and headteachers from a sample of twelve schools (primary, middle and secondary level) in England highlight contradictions that occur at different strategic levels in the school. A perspective document, comprising contradictory statements gathered from interview transcripts, reveals the extent to which these contradictions are shared among interviewees. A striking feature of the data is that teachers do not recognise these contradictions themselves. Analysis of the data reveals how teachers respond to contradictory situations. Responses include a sense of powerlessness, varying degrees of accommodation and a reframing of contradictions through ‘expansive learning’. This paper proposes a process for identifying and assessing contradictions in schools and suggests that, by making their responses to contradictions explicit, teachers can present learners with authentic examples of contextualised learning.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Education for sustainable development; Activity Theory; Contradictions; Teachers; Schools; REF2021
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Society and Learning
Depositing User: Paul Vare
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2019 11:08
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:43

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