What does that mean? Sustainable usually refers to ecology, or generally to practices that seek to be self-supporting and do not merely consume a resource out of existence. So what does it mean to attach the term “sustainable” to education? Two things. First, that we should have a system of education that in fact does not consume resources without replenishing, and second, that the very idea of practicing sustainability in the more general sense is something that children are made aware of as they are “educated”.
Taking up the first point (and the second in the next post) let’s recognize that the system of education typically in place today is not meeting the general needs of most students. Students are dropping out of high school and college, they are stressed and over-worked to the point of growing anxiety and other emotional disorders as well as increasing incidences of suicide. We are treating the resources poorly and destroying them. According to creativity expert Ken Robinson, schools “experience out” the natural creativity of children. We see decreasing levels of creativity as the years of school go by, he reports. So from the point of view of sustaining what is required for education: the very children who are to receive the education, the traditional model is not succeeding. But, we already knew that.