Vedaaranya Heritage Arts and Healing Festival 2016

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Ms. Sally Jansen

University of Melbourne
3 Gladstone St
Surrey Hills
Victoria 3127, Australia

Imagination as Spirit in Education for Sustainability

The anthropocentric vision of nature as a ‘resource’ is central to the rationalisation of environmental challenges and the marginalisation of the imagination from the ‘real work’ of knowledge production. This rationalisation marginalises Indigenous knowledge’s from educational institutions as also marginalises the imagination from the cache of intelligence.

The ‘Resource’ discourse dominates conversations of/for sustainability and education yet both require a renewed expandable vision. Currently Education For Sustainability (EfS) programs are about ‘Resource’ management and connecting children to nature through experiences outdoors. But what about that which we cannot experience?

The struggle of sustaining rich pedagogy within an educational environment that practices rational, objective analysis of world systems is what Egan refers to as ‘the educational crisis’ (1997). Buell’s, ‘The Environmental Imagination’ (1995) refers the environmental crisis in a similar way:

“...with the environmental crisis comes a crisis of the imagination, the amelioration of which depends on finding better ways of imagining nature and humanity's relationship to it”

This paper documents the ecological possibilities of knowledge systems in schools that antidote the ‘resource’ and ‘development’ agenda. Just 3 times only in working with schools in the ResourceSmart Schools program in Victoria 2009, I stepped away from ‘resource module’ modality. This resulted in complex, integrated, cross-curricula, collaborative teaching and learning systems that are profound and unique, beautiful and self-organising.

What are the lines of flight that connect the ways we currently imagine nature and imagine knowledge in education?

I propose EFS offers education the re-integration of nature and knowledge. I ask how does the ‘resource’ notion of nature effect education? And seek to articulate the importance of the imagination to access authentic, empathic and contextual global perspectives and enable a re-imagining of both nature and knowledge.

Bios for Sally Jensen

Sally Jensen

•    Sustainability Educator
•    Facilitator ResourceSmart Schools Victoria, The Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative.
•    Sustainable Education Outreach Group (SEOG) Team at CERES Environment Park, Melbourne, Victoria
•    PhD Student, University of Melbourne
•    Member of Be The Change Australia

Sally is a Resource Smart AuSSI Vic Core Facilitator in Victoria's Far South-West region. She is also undertaking her PhD at Melbourne University on the role of the Imagination in EfS. Sally has a Bachelors degree from the VCA, completed her Honours in Townsville and earned a Dip Ed in 2004. Prior to joining the SEOG team, Sally worked as a Secondary School Teacher in 2 regional schools and at CERES. She has also worked as a tour guide in Australia's Far North and a volunteer at Mother Theresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying, Calcutta, India. Sally gets a thrill out of the collaborative, integrated and progressive innovations that regenerate school life as they become sustainable.