Connecting the Dots: Key Strategies that Transform Learning for Environmental Education, Citizenship and Sustainability
Connecting the Dots is a strategic toolkit / report, developed by Learning for a Sustainable Future, a Canada-based NGO that was created in 1991 with the mission to integrate sustainability education into Canada’s education system.
Founders of the LSF/LST (and members of its Board of Directors) include a diverse group of educators, youth, business leaders, researchers, government and community members.
The Connecting the Dots report seeks to address two questions:
- What are the learning strategies for environmental education that can be employed to prepare our young people to take their place as informed, engaged citizens?
- How are these strategies aligned with 21st century learning skills including collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking?
The report identifies seven such strategies and discusses their interlinkages and possibilities for application through changes in curricula. These are: learning locally, integrated learning, acting on learning, real-world connections, considering alternative perspectives, inquiry and sharing responsibilities for learning.
This resource has been used across Canada (but mostly in Ontario) to inspire debate about necessary policy and curriculum changes. It can be downloaded freely after registration on the LSF/LST website.
The Connecting the Dots report, as well as the work of LFS/LST in general offers an example of how conceptual shifts in educational approaches (from traditional to transformative learning) can be operationalized through strategic recommendations that were developed through inputs of a very varied group of stakeholders.
Although Connecting the Dots adopts a learner-centred approach to education that emphasizes individual and community-based (active) citizens’ engagement in sustainability challenges that does not (explicitly) address the structural causes of the ongoing climate/environmental crises, but instead focuses on hands-on solutions (reducing waste, recycling, supporting local food production etc.), the document itself can be considered as an example of strategic recommendations that have garnered wide-spread support and that can create openings for more critical/disruptive learning space in schools, should the educators themselves decide to take such pathways.
Both the resulting document and the process that lead to its creation can be considered as valuable insights into what is possible to achieve in existing formal education systems.