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Teaching sustainable development in the wild: sorting knowledge and priorities
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper is to discuss some of the different strategies used by teachers in handling sustainable development (SD) as an area of knowledge in Swedish schools. A dominating idea in Western school systems is that knowledge is somewhat separated from the subject. Regarding this idea, the task of the school system is to deliver necessary packages of knowledge and bring forward the subject’s ability to make rational and autonomous choices. When it comes to SD, this becomes a problematic standpoint.

The paper builds on the analysis of transcribed interviews and focus interviews with teachers in Swedish high schools and upper secondary schools as well as on observations and sound recordings in classrooms while working with sustainable development as an area of knowledge. The coding was done by identification of key concepts, tensions and meaning fixations and their relations to each other.

The study presents two models for how the teachers handle - and are allowed to handle - knowledge about SD: the Accountant and the Adventurer. The accountant counts, distributes and summarizes knowledge; it is the results that matter. The adventurer goes into the wild, with a more flexible map; where the experiences are the ones that count. The school system pressures the teachers to become accountants, but it is in the wild that routines and patterns are shaken and boundaries are tested; where students acquire understanding and deeper knowledge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Knowledge; education; sustainable devlopment; translation; apparatus
National Category
Educational Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105165OAI: diva2:703971
Nordic Educational Research, NERA 42nd Congress, Education for sustainable development, Lillehammer, Norway, March 5-7, 2014
Available from: 2014-03-10 Created: 2014-03-10 Last updated: 2014-03-21

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Gyberg, Per
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Department of Water and Environmental StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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