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Preparing Sustainability-Literate Teachers

by Victor Nolet - 2009

Background/Context: This article explores sustainability as an emerging paradigm for preservice preparation of teachers. Sustainability education, which is rooted in Deweyan ideas about the fundamental social purposes of schooling, attends to the tensions created by the interconnectedness of environmental, economic, and social equity systems. Sustainability education extends but does not replace environmental education or education for sustainable development, although the latter is considered a problematic idea.

Purpose/ Focus of Study: Nine themes that occur frequently in the sustainability discourse are explored as the basis for sustainability literacy, a complex construct validated through collection of multiple sources of evidence. Specific strategies for integrating sustainability education into the preservice preparation of teachers are linked to a framework for teacher learning that addresses curricular vision, understandings about teaching, dispositions, and professional practices.

Research Design: The article is an analytic essay that examines existing literature in the area of sustainability education and maps this work onto current research pertaining to the preparation of beginning teachers.

Conclusions: Sustainability education represents a new paradigm for the preparation of teachers. It can help new teachers develop a curricular vision that addresses the fundamental social purposes of education in the context of an uncertain 21st century. Sustainability education also can stimulate a conversation about the role of teacher education in the creation and solution of global environmental and social justice challenges.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 2, 2009, p. 409-442
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15177, Date Accessed: 7/24/2021 9:30:00 AM

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About the Author
  • Victor Nolet
    Western Washington University
    E-mail Author
    VICTOR NOLET is an associate professor in the Secondary Education Department at Western Washington University. Dr. Nolet’s current research addresses the integration of sustainability education in the preservice preparation of teachers. His previous work focused on assessment policy in the preparation of teachers and outcome indicators in high-stakes standards-based assessment. Recent publications include “Collecting and Using Assessment Data for Ensuring Access to the General Education Curriculum” in Assessment for Effective Intervention (2006) and, with M. J. McLaughlin, Accessing the General Education Curriculum: Including Students With Disabilities in Standards-Based Reform (2nd ed.) published by Corwin Press (2005).
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