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Making sense of education ′responsibly′: findings from a study of student teachers' understanding(s) of education, sustainable development and Education for Sustainable Development.
Zeitschriftenausgabe (-> Ref.Nr):
Environmental Education Research
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This article discusses findings from a tri-country study of student teachers' understandings of the purposes of education, their conceptions of sustainable development and the task of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). At its heart are case studies of 30 student teachers from Initial Teacher Education Programmes in England, Denmark and Germany (10 from each country). While they are diverse in their personal, professional and subject disciplinary backgrounds, and they work in a variety of school subject areas, all the students share the objective of becoming members of the teaching profession in the primary or lower secondary schools of their countries, and thus each one currently faces the additional challenge of understanding and responding to national, cross-cutting policy initiatives on sustainable development and ESD. As interpretative research, the study catalogued and mapped similarities and differences in student teacher understandings, and identified those notions, thoughts and ideas that were meaningful to a beginning teacher's interpretations and sense-making of key ESD concepts and tasks. The findings highlight the widespread importance of ′taking responsibility′ and ′having responsibility′ as key notions in interpreting their professional role and student learning in relation to ESD. An explorative framework developed during the data analysis suggests that in making sense of ESD, student teachers have recourse to one or more of at least four identifiable rationalities for ascribing responsibility to oneself or others, where each rationality articulates a different set of responses to questions about the prioritized locus of agency and the nature of the decision-making process. The framework offers a critical and generative tool for stimulating debate in the field about policy and professional preparation and development and, in particular, the nature, processes and qualities of learning that are understood to ′generate a sense of responsibility′, within the broader—and in the case of ESD—related quests of education and sustainable development.
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