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3-Year Schools for Resilience Comenius Project

comeniusCultivate is looking forward to joining a European team for the Schools for Resilience programme.  The project kicks off in January 2014, and culminates in an event at the Cloughjordan ecovillage in the last year of the project.

This project aims mainly to respond to two needs: First, to introduce a new approach in environmental school education, based on community action and a socio-constructivist approach, in which students will define the most adequate solutions to their local community from a positive and creative way. It will also foster the sense of initiative, entrepreneurship and creativity; and second, to make a reality the 21st century school, being open to the outside world and problems that society faces, innovative in the use of new didactic methods and with a relevant learning and teaching regarding key social challenges.

In this sense, the project aims to design a set of teaching materials (educational resources, teaching plan and guide for adaptation to school / community context) aimed to approach environmental education from the point of view of community sustainability and resilience, using a holistic and comprehensive methodology: Place Based Learning. Such a didactic method underpins the relation between schools and communities, supports the acquisition of key competences, fosters a sense of initiative, entrepreneurship and the creativity of students and promotes their civic engagement and active citizenship. Thus, the project is contributing to some of the general goals for education and training systems stated by the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020). It is also to highlight the importance given by the Council of the European Union to education for sustainable development. In its conclusions of 19 November 2010, it explicitly states that “Sustainability can play an important role in national lifelong learning strategies and can be used as a tool to enhance quality at all levels of education and training”; and furthermore, declares that “At primary and lower secondary level, Education for Sustainable Development can focus on awareness-raising and the development of key competences”. Therefore, the approach chosen for the project (Place Based Learning) is the most appropriate approach to contribute, not only to environmental education recommendations, but also to the general goals of the Education and Training 2020 strategy.

These principles are present and are part of the partners’ strategies, since all of them are concerned with environmental education from a double perspective: their commitment in providing the education community (teachers, students, schools, etc.) with innovative approaches and methods to improve the quality of the educational system as well as educating the youngest in environmental issues and challenges to raise their awareness of the impact of human activity on the planet and how this affects us. As sustainability is a global challenge, it seemed more enriching to undertake the project at European level, learning from other educational and environmental experiences, specifically those from the Northern countries (United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark) where the environmental awareness and innovative experiences such as the Transition Towns movement first emerged and are more developed and widespread. With the purpose of improving their knowledge and strengthening the relation with the Transition movement, one researcher from Aranzadi, granted by the LLP, spent 6 weeks in Cloughjordan eco-village, hosted by Cultivate to learn about education in sustainability,  resilience education strategies and community involvement.

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