Redefining Education for Global Opportunities

Addressing resistance to change
Why don’t we get the best out of people? It’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies – far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity – are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences.

Children should be encouraged to answer boldly and not be afraid of being wrong, because if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong, by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong.

Our education system is outdated and is based on a hierarchy wherein most useful subjects for a job are considered to be the most important and academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence because the universities designed the system in their image. The modern educational system vastly underestimates the power of the human imagination.

More people, which highlights the importance of two points that need to be focused on- technology and its transformation effect on work. Suddenly, degrees are no guarantee for attaining a job. You need an MA where the previous job required a BA, and now you need a PhD for the other. It’s a process of academic inflation. It indicates the whole structure of education is shifting beneath our feet. We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence. Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth, for a particular commodity, and for the future, it won’t serve us.

The honest truth is that no-one really likes change because it involves moving from a position of comfort and stepping into place which is unknown. As spectators we like to sit on the fence and applaud good ideas but refuse to change ourselves. Instead we think we can ride it out and somehow it won’t affect us. We like to argue and always focus on the negatives, pushing for decisions to be made and then criticising them. We tend to see change as an opportunity to learn and grow.

We have all experienced behaviour like this ourselves, it’s a natural human reaction. It’s a little easier to see it in others than ourselves but never the less, once you can recognise it, you can change it.

Governmental agencies and organizations that support and promote quality education for all children must move beyond traditional models to help children develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are relevant to their lives and that can lift them out of poverty. Mastery of the basic primary school curriculum is not the best means for improving life chances and alleviating poverty in developing countries, that model is broken. It is time to seek out the interventions that lead to the greatest social and economic impact for the poor.

The 21st century will require knowledge generation, not just information delivery, and schools will need to create a “culture of inquiry”. In the past a learner was a young person who went to school, spent a specified amount of time in certain courses, received passing grades and graduated. Today we must see learners in a new context:

First – we must maintain student interest by helping them see how what they are learning prepares them for life in the real world.
Second – we must instill curiosity, which is fundamental to lifelong learning.
Third – we must be flexible in how we teach.
Fourth – we must excite learners to become even more resourceful so that they will continue to learn outside the formal school day.

The classroom is expanded to include the greater community. Students are self-directed, and work both independently and interdependently. The curriculum and instruction are designed to challenge all students, and provides for differentiation.

The curriculum is not textbook-driven or fragmented, but is thematic, project-based and integrated. Skills and content are not taught as an end in themselves, but students learn them through their research and application in their projects. Textbooks, if they have them, are just one of many resources.

Knowledge is not memorization of facts and figures, but is constructed through research and application, and connected to previous knowledge, personal experience, interests, talents and passions. The skills and content become relevant and needed as students require this information to complete their projects. The content and basic skills are applied within the context of the curriculum, and are not ends in themselves.

Assessment moves from regurgitation of memorized facts and disconnected processes to demonstration of understanding through application in a variety of contexts. Real-world audiences are an important part of the assessment process, as is self-assessment.

My thoughts are that in order to create change in education all stakeholders must be on board. One of the main obstacles as I see it is the enormous resistance to change among educators, policy makers, industry leaders, parents, and even many students. There have been many movements to create change in our educational system, all fraught with conflict. Some of the current efforts are trying to create change without actually changing – they are trying to take attributes of the 21st century and force fit them into the 19th and 20th century ways of designing and delivering education. It won’t work!

We must realize, and our students must understand, that we cannot move toward a vision of the future until we understand the socio-historical context of where we are now. Where are we? What events led us to be where we are? How can this inform our development of a vision for the future and how we want to get there?

A clear articulation of the purpose of education for the 21st century is the place to begin. Creating a vision of where we want to go requires us to ask the question – why? What is the purpose of education? What do we need to do to accomplish that purpose?

I believe that when many parents and educators are introduced to the paradigm of education in the 21st century that it is so foreign to them that they automatically reject it – automatically and angrily! We are attempting to create a huge change in our society. Our task is to change the way people think about education. I think about previous efforts to create change across our entire society. Many movements have grown and succeeded in creating change in how people think.

Phases in the management of resistance to change

PHASE 1: Determine the preparedness and receptiveness for change. Preparedness and receptiveness are determined by the existence of a culture for change and how change has been managed in the past.

PHASE 2: Identify the sources of resistance. Sources can be classified as individual, formal groups or resistance coalitions.

PHASE 3: Determine the nature of resistance. Three categories can be distinguished: passive, active and aggressive resistance.

PHASE 4: Diagnose the reasons for resistance. Reasons include manifestations that are based on the individual, social structure or the environment (culture).

PHASE 5: Select, develop and implement specific resistance management strategies aimed at each separate source of resistance. Strategies include: negotiation, co-option, provision of information, training, convincing and awarding.

PHASE 6: Evaluate the successfulness of the attempt to manage resistance to change. If the attempt is successful, manage it, if unsuccessful, return to Phase 1.

Phase 1: Determine the preparedness and receptiveness for change
The level of preparedness and receptiveness of the school for change depends on a number of factors. They are the history of change and change management practices used in the school; the degree with which staff is aware of the reasons for change and whether they understand and accept it; the degree in which change reconciles with aims, objectives and practices in the school; and the degree in which the school encourages and supports creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Phase 2: Identify the sources of resistance
Even if a school is diagnosed as being prepared and receptive for change, some kind of resistance will still exist. It is therefore important to identify the factors influencing resistance to change, such as a lack of communication and information, a lack of support, “senseless” change, power struggles and increase in workload.

Phase 3: Determine the nature of resistance
The nature of resistance depends on the particular culture of a school. It could take the form of passive resistance, active resistance or aggressive resistance.

Phase 4: Diagnose the reasons for resistance
The reasons for resistance to change occur on three levels, namely the individual, social and environmental level.

Phase 5: Select, develop and implement specific resistance
Management strategies aimed at each separate source of resistance only when the sources, reasons and nature of resistance are known, decisions on strategies to manage change can be made. The following strategies may be used: education and communication; participation, facilitation, manipulation and force; change in the nature of reward for co-operation; the design of co ownership by means of participative management; and the phasing out of previous customs, practices and objectives and the learning of new ones that can serve change.

Phase 6: Evaluate the successfulness of the attempt to manage Resistance to change
There are certain criteria that can be used to determine the success of management intervention of resistance to change. School-based management is therefore not a fad or a cosmetic change, but an enduring phenomenon whereby each school may renew its management and its members in a responsible way.

Summary
Moral purpose, defined as making a difference in the lives of students, is a crucial motivator for addressing in the lives of students, is a critical motivator for addressing the sustained task of complex reform. Passion and higher order purpose are required because the effort needed is gargantuan and must be worth doing.

Moral purpose will not add up if left at the individual level.

Reducing the gap between high and low performers at all levels (classroom, school, district, state) is the key to system breakthroughs.

Focussing on gap reduction is the moral responsibility of all educators. They must then understand the bigger picture and reach out beyond themselves to work with others.

Ultimately, a tri-level solution will be necessary (school district state).

Reducing the gap in educational attainment is part and parcel of societal development in which greater social cohesion, developmental health and economic performance are at stake.

Mobilising the untapped moral purpose of the public in alliance with governments and educators is one of the greatest alliances to the cause that we could make.

Adaptive change stimulates resistance because it challenges people’s habits, beliefs, and values. It asks them to take a loss, experience uncertainty, and even express disloyalty to people and cultures. Because adaptive change asks people to question and perhaps refine aspects of their identity, it also challenges their sense of competence. That’s a lot to ask. No wonder people resist.

Immortalizing Values Through Education for Sustainable Development

Education is the primary agent of transformation towards sustainable development, increasing people’s capacities to transform their visions for society into reality. Education not only provides scientific and technical skills, it also provides the motivation, and social support for pursuing and applying them. For this reason, society must be deeply concerned that much of current education falls far short of what is required. When we say this, it reflects the very necessities across the cultures that allow everyone become responsible towards quality enhancement.

Improving the quality and revelation of education and reorienting its goals to recognize the importance of sustainable development must be among society’s highest priorities. It is not that we talk only about environment but also about every component of life.

We therefore need to clarify the concept of education for sustainable development. It was a major challenge for educators during the last decade. The meanings of sustainable development in educational set ups, the appropriate balance of peace, human rights, citizenship, social equity, ecological and development themes in already overloaded curricula, and ways of integrating the humanities, the social sciences and the arts into what had up-to-now been seen and practiced as a branch of science education.

Some argued that educating for sustainable development ran the risk of programming while others wondered whether asking schools to take a lead in the transition to sustainable development was asking too much of teachers.

These debates were compounded by the desire of many, predominantly environmental, NGOs to contribute to educational planning without the requisite understanding of how education systems work, how educational change and innovation takes place, and of relevant curriculum development, professional development and instructive values. Not realizing that effective educational change takes time, others were critical of governments for not acting more quickly.

Consequently, many international, regional and national initiatives have contributed to an expanded and refined understanding of the meaning of education for sustainable development. For example, Education International, the major umbrella group of teachers’ unions and associations in the world, has issued a declaration and action plan to promote sustainable development through education.

A common agenda in all of these is the need for an integrated approach through which all communities, government entities, collaborate in developing a shared understanding of and commitment to policies, strategies and programs of education for sustainable development.

Actively promoting the integration of education into sustainable development at local community

In addition, many individual governments have established committees, panels, advisory councils and curriculum development projects to discuss education for sustainable development, develop policy and appropriate support structures, programs and resources, and fund local initiatives.

Indeed, the roots of education for sustainable development are firmly planted in the environmental education efforts of such groups. Along with global education, development education, peace education, citizenship education, human rights education, and multicultural and anti-racist education that have all been significant, environmental education has been particularly significant. In its brief thirty-year history, contemporary environmental education has steadily striven towards goals and outcomes similar and comparable to those inherent in the concept of sustainability.

A New Vision for Education

These many initiatives illustrate that the international community now strongly believes that we need to foster – through education – the values, behavior and lifestyles required for a sustainable future. Education for sustainable development has come to be seen as a process of learning how to make decisions that consider the long-term future of the economy, ecology and social well-being of all communities. Building the capacity for such futures-oriented thinking is a key task of education.

This represents a new vision of education, a vision that helps learners better understand the world in which they live, addressing the complexity and inter-contentedness of problems such as poverty, wasteful consumption, environmental degradation, urban decay, population growth, gender inequality, health, conflict and the violation of human rights that threaten our future. This vision of education emphasizes a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to developing the knowledge and skills needed for a sustainable future as well as changes in values, behavior, and lifestyles. This requires us to reorient education systems, policies and practices in order to empower everyone, young and old, to make decisions and act in culturally appropriate and locally relevant ways to redress the problems that threaten our common future. We therefore need to think globally and act locally. In this way, people of all ages can become empowered to develop and evaluate alternative visions of a sustainable future and to fulfill these visions through working creatively with others.

Seeking sustainable development through education requires educators to:

• Place an ethic for living sustainable, based upon principles of social justice, democracy, peace and ecological integrity, at the center of society’s concerns.
• Encourage a meeting of disciplines, a linking of knowledge and of expertise, to create understandings that are more integrated and contextualized.
• Encourage lifelong learning, starting at the beginning of life and stuck in life – one based on a passion for a radical transformation of the moral character of society.
• Develop to the maximum the potential of all human beings throughout their lives so that they can achieve self-fulfillment and full self-expression with the collective achievement of a viable future.
• Value aesthetics, the creative use of the imagination, an openness to risk and flexibility, and a willingness to explore new options.
• Encourage new alliances between the State and civil society in promoting citizens’ liberation and the practice of democratic principles.
• Mobilize society in an intensive effort so as to eliminate poverty and all forms of violence and injustice.
• Encourage a commitment to the values for peace in such a way as to promote the creation of new lifestyles and living patterns
• Identify and pursue new human projects in the context of local sustainability within an earthly realization and a personal and communal awareness of global responsibility.
• Create realistic hope in which the possibility of change and the real desire for change are accompanied by a rigorous, active participation in change, at the appropriate time, in favor of a sustainable future for all.

These responsibilities emphasize the key role of educators as ambassador of change. There are over 60 million teachers in the world – and each one is a key ambassador for bringing about the changes in lifestyles and systems that we need. But, education is not confined to the classrooms of formal education. As an approach to social learning, education for sustainable development also encompasses the wide range of learning activities in basic and post-basic education, technical and vocational training and tertiary education, and both non-formal and informal learning by both young people and adults within their families and workplaces and in the wider community. This means that all of us have important roles to play as both ‘learners’ and ‘teachers’ in advancing sustainable development.

Key Lessons

Deciding how education should contribute to sustainable development is a major task. In coming to decisions about what approaches to education will be locally relevant and culturally appropriate, countries, educational institutions and their communities may take heed of the following key lessons learnt from discussion and debate about education and sustainable development over the past decade.

• Education for sustainable development must explore the economic, political and social implications of sustainability by encouraging learners to reflect critically on their own areas of the world, to identify non-viable elements in their own lives and to explore the tensions among conflicting aims. Development strategies suited to the particular circumstances of various cultures in the pursuit of shared development goals will be crucial. Educational approaches must take into account the experiences of indigenous cultures and minorities, acknowledging and facilitating their original and significant contributions to the process of sustainable development.

• The movement towards sustainable development depends more on the development of our moral sensitivities than on the growth of our scientific understanding – important as that is. Education for sustainable development cannot be concerned only with disciplines that improve our understanding of nature, despite their undoubted value. Success in the struggle for sustainable development requires an approach to education that strengthens our engagement in support of other values – especially justice and fairness – and the awareness that we share a common destiny with others.

• Ethical values are the principal factor in social consistency and at the same time, the most effective agent of change and transformation. Ultimately, sustainability will depend on changes in behavior and lifestyles, changes which will need to be motivated by a shift in values and rooted in the cultural and moral precepts upon which behavior is based. Without change of this kind, even the most enlightened legislation, the cleanest technology, the most sophisticated research will not succeed in steering society towards the long-term goal of sustainability.

• Changes in lifestyle will need to be accompanied by the development of an ethical awareness, whereby the inhabitants of rich countries discover within their cultures the source of a new and active solidarity, which will make possible to eradicate the widespread poverty that now besets 80% of the world’s population as well as the environmental degradation and other problems linked to it.

The Various Benefits of Consuming Natural Health Foods

Nowadays, more and more people around the world are realizing the importance of a healthy diet. Overdependence on fast food has led to a massive increase in obesity, diabetes and other health problems all over the world. Most fast food chains use high amounts of oil to make their food, which leads to high cholesterol and heart diseases as well.

There are a number of natural health food products available in the market these days. These products promise to be just as tasty and filling as fast food items, and do not cause any harm to the body. While apple chips, organic fruit preserves, etc. are partially processed foods, they do provide almost as many benefits as the real thing.

Foods like burgers, fries, cheese, and certain desserts have a high amount of unsaturated fat, which could lead to clogged arteries and heart diseases. A lot of fast food joints have started to offer healthier items on the menu. However, what most people don’t realize is that some of the components used in such foods such as sauces and dressings, minimize any benefit you get from eating healthier items.

While buying natural health foods, make sure that you read the labeling and look at the nutrient information. Healthy food will have high levels of HDL, fiber, vitamins, etc. Avoid foods which have trans-fat. HDL stands for high density lipoproteins, and is also called good cholesterol. These are tiny molecules which carry fat and other harmful materials from the heart to the liver, to get disposed of. It is believed that having a high HDL count will substantially reduce the risk of heart attack, and other related diseases.

Generally, foods which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, rich in HDL and those which contain a high level of some antioxidants such as resveratrol are considered valuable in improving the health of the body. Items such as baked salmon, apples, pears, tofu, sweet potatoes, carrots, blueberries, walnuts, etc. are good for your health. Look for products which have been baked, and not fried in oil. Having a couple of glasses of wine a day is supposedly good for you as well.

While you are looking for natural health foods, try and stick as much as you can to products made by reputed companies. There are a number of guidelines in place regarding the features of such products. Make sure that the item you are buying, meets all such guidelines, and does not contain high amounts of trans-fat and other potentially harmful ingredients. Look for items which have been sourced from organic suppliers.

Studies have shown that consuming products such as apple chips, canned fruits, etc. provide significant health benefits over similar health products such as potato chips and wedges. They provide a greater amount of fibers and nutrients, which improves your overall health condition. Keep in mind the fact that even though these foods are good for health, you should avoid going overboard with them. Too much dependence on natural health foods may not provide desired results.