Teaching for Sustainability in our School Library

We often don’t think about the things we implicitly teach. Recently, I completed a survey for The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) on our contribution to the United Nations Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This is an example of how we can introduce the complexity of this to younger students:

What is Sustainable Development? from World’s Largest Lesson on Vimeo.

It is interesting to stop and think about what we might be modelling to our students beyond actual subject teaching – something the school library needs to consider on a regular basis.

These are the targets that I believe we are working towards:

These three are probably the most obvious.

SDGs 1

We are so lucky to belong to our College Community – with a long and proud tradition, a strong focus on health and well-being, dedicated and passionate teachers, and a well-established curriculum and pastoral care system based on Justice. We expose students to a number of world issues where these targets are far from being fully implemented and our opportunities to work towards these goals are provided through fund and consciousness raising.

Next, these two are related to each other:

SDGs 2

Last year we had a display based on LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Intersex) Rights. The concept resulted from a member of staff attending a professional learning event at our local hospital. Up to date and relevant material was purchased, and a display space near the public phone, located in the Tower building, has been set up with relevant and medically approved brochures. We also focus displays at New Internationalist topics of note, and refer students regularly to issues relating to refuges and people fleeing war and or natural disasters.

Another set of connected goals which we model as well as teach can be seen in these three target areas:

SDGs 3

The subjects we teach that cover these areas include Geography, English  and Science.  The way in which we live these are as follows:

  • paper recycling bins
  • Papercut is now controlling our printing – which allows for jobs to be cancelled if they are no longer required, and prevents students printing to all the printers in the school but only collecting from one. This has had a massive impact on our paper and toner use.
  • OneNote notebooks which are now ubiquitous across the Senior Campus are also saving us from printing as many work sheets etc.
  • We also consider the environment when we turn on the air conditioners, and lights – and determine the timing, temperature and duration of use based on necessity rather than just having them running.

Can you think of other ways that we are meeting these goals? If so we would love to hear them.

The logos in this article have been used as laid down in the UN Guidelines for use.

Options For Tertiary Study in 2025

Christian Long: Imagining tertiary education in 2025 from EDtalks on Vimeo.

For a long time people have forecast the end of teaching as we know it – but surely we are entering an era where options will morph into something other than the known, something better, something more open and flexible?

In this short film, Christian Long raises a number of questions including:

                                              What are the options tertiary students will face in 2025?

                                              What will it mean to go to school?

He raises some questions that are unanswerable at this present time, but which will affect students currently at school, and for whom we are still providing something more like the experience of our medieval forebears,rather than the agility that the connected world provides.

He reminds us that it is hard to measure the return on investment for attending a tertiary institution now, let alone into the future, even if that is as close as his chosen time frame of eight years.

He challenges tertiary institutions to think about what they are and what they should be; university campus planning should allow for more agile uses, including partnering with other organisations. “Place” will be less bricks and mortar, rather than something that will form part of a fabric of choices ranging from face to face, several days immersion, virtual attendance, flexible spaces and incubators. Just in time learning at scale rather than a set time-frame resulting in a specific degree; adding up to an ongoing and learner driven life long education.

Our schools would do well to be thinking along similar lines.

References

Long, C.  (2012). Imagining Tertiary education in 2025 [Motion Picture]. Retrieved July 5, 2017, from https://vimeo.com/50512142

 

Cambridge City Library

On a recent visit to the United Kingdom, I visited the Cambridge Library (not the university version – the public offering) which is part of a large new shopping centre in the town. As with most modern libraries, it had lots of natural light and was furnished with light coloured shelving. There were large numbers of users of all ages, reading, using computers (their own or the facility’s) and consulting with staff. Staff were spread through the building and were proactive in offering assistance.

Materials were shelved as Fiction and Non- fiction in the adult and young adult section, and Fiction or Information in the children’s area. Face out displays were well used and material was generally shelved in order.

 

overview
A view through the first floor.

 

Children’s offerings:

 

child-1
Each section in the train was shelved in author order
child-2
Parenting material was located in the children’s section.
child-3
Babies had their own spaces (but parents had to reach them!)
child-non-fic
A view through the first floor.

The adult section was diverse and much larger than the children’s collection space.

What I really liked about this library was its quiet sense of purpose, its focus on users, and the fact that  books were shelved in precise order but obviously being well used as they were not pristinely upright!

Perhaps the lack of spine labels on Fiction materials leads to better attention to shelving? Something to ponder.