Our quality of life as humanity has drastically improved since the first industrial revolution in the 1800s. Since then, we have been continually using and depleting non-renewable resources and this has presented significant challenges, the biggest challenge being that of climate change. The youth will be most affected by the implications of climate change and therefore they must be agents of change. How do we make this happen? The answer lies in SDG4: Quality Education! What constitutes quality education?
The book Teaching & Learning for Change: Education and Sustainability in South Africa shares research about how curriculum policy, teacher education programs, and teachers themselves are responding to this challenge through the integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). It draws on small-scale empirical studies in South Africa, that are embedded in a coherent national teacher professional development program.
ESD can provide children with the hope of being able to build a better world and improves their understanding of issues around the environment and sustainability. This article offers insight into what you can expect when delving into the pages of this book and highlights the Fundisa for Change program that GreenMatter is in partnership with. It answers the question, what constitutes good or quality education?
Links between sustainability and education
This book does an amazing job of highlighting the link between sustainability and education. You will learn that to position ESD in the broader educational context, we need to rethink education in terms of development intentions. Simultaneously it critically analyses the evolution of development thinking, identifying well-being, equality, and restoration of both social and planetary balances as core development considerations.
You may ask yourself, what is the key role of education? Well, the key role of education is to enhance human development, and development itself is not an end goal but an ongoing process. Education usually increases the quality of life for humanity and the flourishing of the human race is the ultimate end of development. This link between sustainability and development can also be found within the Sustainable Development goals.
Fundisa for Change program
South Africa’s latest curriculum, Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), is rich in environmental and sustainability content. However, that does not eliminate the challenge for educators of the dominance of existing educational models and approaches. The Fundisa for Change program supports the integration of ESD in teacher professional development and curricula. This program was established in 2011 to provide a systemic approach to environmental learning through teacher education.
The approach used by Fundisa for Change:
This book comes highly recommended to help you form a deeper understanding of how education can be used as a tool to combat climate change. To read the full book click on this link. Let us know what you learned from the book in the comment session!
Environmental Youth for the Future!
Physical activity is very important for your health! Maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind is a great investment for your current and future well-being. Regular exercise improves respiratory health, cardiovascular health, and general health. This can have a profound impact on several areas in your life, including your career. How do the two connect? Well, exercise helps clear up “brain fog”, improving productivity and mental capacity. Exercise has been proven to help in managing stress, improve sleeping patterns, reduce the risk of major illnesses, help increase your brain function, and reduce workday absences.
The average South African spends 8 hours in their workplace, therefore some South Africans feel that they do not have enough time to fit physical activity into their routine. However, it is advisable to make exercise a priority in your life. Even the busiest among us still find a way to fit exercise into their schedule and this investment has major benefits. Below are 5 reasons why investing in physical activity will benefit your workplace performance.
Managing and Reducing Stress
Exercise in any form can help you reduce your stress because it stimulates the release of your feel-good hormones. When you exercise, endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers, and they create a general feeling of well-being. Although this may be popularly known as the “runners high”, it also applies to different kinds of physical activity such as swimming, playing tennis, etc. When you are stressed, you are more prone to error, poor work performance, burnout, and conflict, therefore exercising and managing your stress levels will significantly improve your workplace performance.
Exercise helps to improve sleep, which is often hindered by stress, depression, and anxiety. So, managing your stress automatically improves your sleeping patterns. Another way that exercise helps improve sleep is that exercise tires you out. The more physically active you are, the more your body pushes you to sleep at night. Exercising outdoors has an added benefit because the natural light helps your body establish a good sleep-wake cycle.
Increasing Brain Function
When you exercise, the increased heart rate increases blood circulation increasing the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. This aids in the release of hormones that create an environment that is conducive to the growth of brain cells. Exercise also enhances neuroplasticity by encouraging the development of new connections between cells. Improved neuroplasticity enhances your cognitive abilities, increases your ability to learn new things, facilitates a speedy recovery from stroke or traumatic brain injuries, and boosts your overall brain fitness.
Helps Prevent Illness
As previously stated, exercise is extremely beneficial to your health, and it helps to prevent many types of illness such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, many types of cancer, depression, anxiety, and dementia. Physical activity helps flush out all the bacteria in your lungs and airways, reducing your chances of getting flu, cold or other illnesses. Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the mortality rate from chronic illness.
Reduces workday absences
The decreased risk of illness results in fewer sick days at work. Evidence from research has shown that physical activity effectively reduces sick absences. Being constantly absent impacts, your workplace performance because when you work less you are likely to be less productive and you leave a lot of work for your colleagues left behind which creates a ripple effect on you, your team, and management. The most common causes of long-term absenteeism are stress, sickness, mental ill-health, musculoskeletal injuries, and back pain. Decreasing the levels of absenteeism in a workplace improves productivity, increases the quality of work, mitigates financial loss, and improves morale.
Now that you know all the benefits of physical activity, it is time for you to go become more physically active. You may start with small steps such as walking for 30 minutes a day every day, thereafter you can start increasing the frequency and intensity of your physical activity.
Environmental Youth for the Future!