Learning sustainably

To achieve a sustainable perspective you have to look far beyond individual lesson plans.

This is the conclusion I have come to while looking for examples of best practice for the Prof E Sus project where we are developing a teacher training course to help hospitality trainers imbue their teaching with a sustainable perspective.

DNS College, a private teacher training institution in Denmark, embodies the logical conclusion of promoting sustainability in a learning institution. DNS College offers an alternative education that is very different to most teacher training degrees. In brief, the training is

  • Learning by doing which means going out far afield, for example to Africa, for extended periods of time to do investigations.
  • Living communally including the sharing of financial resources
  • Learning in a self-directed way which means that each student decides which projects they will undertake in negotiation with their course colleagues.
  • Living sustainably

And while I am obviously focused on the last element, it is easy to see that living sustainably

  • is only part of the package and
  • only works because it is part of the wider package

Talking to Marina and Nadezda, a Spanish student and a Lithuanian teacher, it became clear that living sustainably arises from discussion and discovery over a prolonged period of time. It is most definitely something which cannot be encapsulated in a single lesson plan.

The following extracts describe two important aspects of the DNS College learning process.

The first extract describes the experience of planning and undertaking a major trip to a place far away from the students’ experiences. This happens in the first year and becomes the foundation for subsequent learning in the remaining two years.

This second extract adresses the issue of living sustainably and how the DNS College students learn this.

Using the recordings as a case study

A challenge with using best practice examples is that they present an impossible standard for others to reach. Therefore many hospitality trainers may consider the DNS College example far too removed from their current context to be of help.

And yet knowing that institutions like this exist can show potential paths forward. And hospitality trainers could list the elements they hear about and discuss the extent to which they could take small steps to go in that same direction.

Some examples may include:

  • How to promote discussion that over time prompts behaviour and/or work practice changes?
  • The value of self-directed learning for embedding new practices
  • How to enable more experiential learning?

There are no doubt many more lessons to be learned from listening to the recordings and visiting the DNS College website as a case study. You are welcome to comment on what these may be in your context.

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