Gadotti reading response

As an educational policy student interested in sustainability, I was curious about a biographical reference I found suggesting that before his death in 1997, Paulo Freire had been developing a conceptual framework highlighting ecology education as an essential form of critical pedagogy. I wanted to see how Freire had connected the two and used the lens of environmental justice to expand the discourse on pedagogy for liberation. I didn’t find such a statement by Freire, but I did find this essay by Moacir Gadotti, of the Paulo Freire Institute in Brazil, discussing this connection. The Gadotti piece is interesting to me because, 1. like the Furman and Gruenewald piece, it argues for ecopedagogy as a central field of study and 2. because it situates the conversations about ecology education within global-scale educational policy-making structures and discussions.

Some of the ideas Gadotti puts forth that I see as being important to my teaching and research are:

Ecology education constitutes a pathway for developing in humanity a sense of global citizenship and mutual responsibility that are essential to the survival of life on the planet. I want to explore how the sense of “global citizenship” can be defined, manifests, and can be nurtured in formal and informal educational settings.

Ecopedagogy is an internationally recognized pillar of education and diplomatic cooperation, as reflected in agreements such as the Earth Charter and the establishment of the “Decade for Sustainability.” I want to better understand what (if any) role such agreements play in shaping educational policy in the US at national and local levels, and why.

Despite ambiguities around terms such as “sustainable” and “development,” and the notion of “the good life,” ecopedagogy offers important opportunities for human beings to uncover and interrogate the relationships between aspects of our lives we take as “givens,” including economic frameworks, human relationships to each other and to the natural world, desire and consumption, and many others. How can such deeply ingrained aspects of our ways of being in the world be problematized effectively, what alternatives can we imagine, and how can we educate to build a world that reflects other possible realities?

I look forward to hearing what others made of this reading…




3 thoughts on “Gadotti reading response

  1. Ferzileta Gjika

    Thank You Pierrana for posting this article. I have been teaching Chemistry and Society for about 4 years in College, and this article served like an open road for me, where I can walk with my thoughts and ideas, and make sense of Gadotti’s article.
    Gadotti points out that Sustainability in Education aims to make a brighter future of education sustainable-economically, socially, and environmentally. Sustainability in Education is for anyone interested in the future of education-students, educators, policy makers, administrators, parents, communities.
    For me sustainability in education is learning to reconnect, restore our place with nature, culture and communities we live in. It is important to have knowledge and tools to understand how are we affecting the environment, and what ways, or methods need to be implemented to make the place we live in a better place. I believe that even small actions bring change, and the world can become a better place. As educators we face challenges to implement such an agenda. The contradiction and the dilemma exist between what we believe we should do or teach, and what we do as part of responsibility of “doing our job”. We all agree that instead of seeing prison yards, we can engage our students into an evergreen project, so students work with big ideas with the environment, change their behavior toward the environment and become a voice for their community to bring change and hope. To do this, the support should come from within and outside the school. Given our current social and ecological crises this becomes a challenge to educators. Do we have tools to design relevant curriculum, problematize environmental education, and integrate ecological justice, love, care, respect, and creativity into every aspect of our classroom and everyday teaching? As educators we need to engage critically, which leads to ongoing open dialogue, creating awareness about our world, and connect learning with lived experiences. Since our lived reality is becoming globalized, we should globalize our sense of community, responsibility and our commitments as well.
    Sustainability of education guides us to understand the complexities, issues concerning planetary sustainability and our own values as a society as we live in the context of sustainability. This requires engaging our future generations into decision making and actions in creating a sustainable future. We must prepare students to think critically, reflect and examine not only social and cultural structures but also economic and environmental structural in the context of sustainable development. Students should be empowered as a way to participate in decision making I also think that Sustainability in Education is making space for creativity and education. This means that by implementing sustainability in education, we allow experimentation when needed without rules. I want to expand the idea of making space, into making emotional space, physical space, and physiological space. It is important to work on the loss creativity in our society, involve art, culture to convey the message to others. As humans we cannot separate ourselves from our emotions, and art is one way expressing our emotions and feelings toward the environment.
    Gadotti’s paper aligned with my research with the fact that learning experience through emotions creates a link between learners and community through distinct experience with nature. Gadotti talks about the culture of sustainability where he emphasizes “the first education is an emotional one, which shows us the mystery of the universe, intimately bound to it, producing an emotion of pertaining to this sacred being in constant evolution”(p.23). Caring for our world also brings peace and resolution to some of the current planetary crisis in a sense that social gets prioritized over the individual.
    Sustainability in education is achieved only through facilitating networks, exchange and interaction among stakeholders. This will foster increased quality of teaching and learning which provides new opportunities to build our communities and our place. Building partnership promotes dialogue and negotiation and empowers people as they participate in decision-making. This is a process where we start to question our belief system and examine economic, environmental, social and cultural structures in the context of sustainable environment. Reason, emotion and intuition are parts of this process in which the observer/him/herself is involved (Gaddoti, p.23). Gaddoti talks about creating and ecological awareness, which depends of educaiton and suggests eco-training, eco-pedagogy which Gaddoti refers them as Earth Pedagogy. Without sustainable education, earth’s space is limited to “technical-technological domain that provides our sustenance, the object of researchers, essays and at times of our contemplation” (p.12). Collectively we must find ways to engage and innovate.Education creates possibilities to build an integrated environment, solidarity and peace.

  2. Marissa Bellino

    I too struggled with this paper and do think it was the translation and the introduction of so many terms that seem to be sort of saying the same thing. I did find it to be a nice extension of the Furman & Gruenewald piece as it highlighted the larger context and the many constraints that education is situated within (capitalist economy, decade of sustainability) as well as the tensions between a more traditional environmental education and education for a sustainable future. Within this larger view of education, I was able to reflect on how a more disciplined environmental education class usually dissects problems into discrete categories without an understanding of the interconnected nature of the environment as a large and complex system and how this system is influenced by social, cultural, economic, and political factors. Ecopedagogy or a critical pedagogy of place, I believe, is a way of illuminating the interplay of all of these structures and how they exert influence on our environment. We cannot separate the social problems of poverty, inequality, wars, famine from the ecological and therefore any education for sustainable develop must be interdisciplinary, incorporating both planetary and human needs, empower people, allow for a reimaging of economic systems and increase political engagement through an understanding of solidarity and global citizenship.

    Many ideas in this reading resonated with my research, specifically thinking about my curriculum design and the globalized, neoliberal, consumer, technology, driven society my students are living within. Ideas for the curriculum include the question of how our lifestyles are tied to the earth both directly and indirectly (something I find is difficult for people to think about, especially my students). I loved the values and principles for a sustainable life on page 22 when thinking about the purposes of education that embrace care, interdependence, solidarity, and transformation. Additionally I am thinking a lot about how to organize my curriculum around themes that can build an understanding of socioecological justice and criticality in my students and I find the discussion of the interconnected crises of society, water, food, climate change and energy on page 15 useful to investigate with young people.

    The discussion of neoliberalism helped me to think about the messages (implicit and explicit) that my students receive day to day. I believe these messages include thinking about technology and science as the solution to all our problems, that their value as a person is based on their consumption habits and that consumption only looks one way (buy big and cheap), that our economic system is infallible and should not be questioned, nor can it be changed, and that education will lead to economic success. All of these ideas emerged in my research with my students and I find that these ideas are deeply entrenched and difficult for young people to articulate. Jennifer pointed out in a previous post the disserve in many ways we can do to students when we educate them in a way that contradicts what they believe and what is actually privileged by the educational and economic systems. But then how does any change come about without first educating and reimaging?

  3. Jennifer Stoops

    This reading was, for me, a little difficult. I’m not sure if it had to do more with the translation and seemingly inevitable spelling and mechanics issues or the actual content. I’m familiar with others who write on the subject of ecopedagogy – Richard Kahn, for one – but I am no means well-read in this area. What I do know is that the United States shamefully lags behind other countries in regard to any international compacts or agreements that signal a willingness to err on the side of the planet rather than profit. The fact that the United States never ratified the Kyoto Protocol is especially depressing.

    I appreciated how Gadotti highlighted the tensions between sustainability and capitalism. While capitalism has been able to thwart (subvert? co-opt?) some areans of sustainability by extracting profit (organically produced materials can be marketed and sold at a higher price premium than their conventional counterparts, “green” buildings similarly fetch a higher price, lifestyle products are developed to appeal to the environmentally conscious sect), I am skeptical both of capitalism’s incessant ability to absorb the fray AND of the “solidary [solidarity] economy” proposed as an alternative to capitalism. I did find this site for SolidarityNYC, a project by a collective that defines the solidarity economy as meeting “human needs through economic activities–like the production and exchange of goods and services–that reinforce values of justice, ecological sustainability, cooperation, and democracy.” This group is brand new to me, and I need time to investigate their claims or mission before I pass judgement.

    One of the supreme difficulties of conceiving of global thinking, planetary awareness, ecopedagogy (or any variation on this theme) is that there is no precedent for massive global agreement. We enjoy our wars too much. Governing bodies like the UN unfortunately cannot police the superpowers to act more compassionately towards the earth. Therefore, any type of international charter that suggests principles for education may sound wonderful, but it’s ultimately up to local educational services to enforce these principles in practice, which is why place-based education matters so much.

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