The Education Department

by Jo Gwillim Education Department

I’m Jo – part of education team at CAT. There’s 7 of us in all looking after different aspects, running the residential eco cabins, organising schools that visit for the day, running activities for pupils, students, and teachers. Where? Mostly here but more and more we spread the “Education for Sustainable Development” message by going out to people as well as waiting for them to come to us.


There’s more and more invitations for us to speak at conferences, work with pupils in schools, and talk sustainability with teachers. There are many teachers that have had a “green” outlook well before it became expected of them, for others it’s all rather new and challenging. All of a sudden they find themselves with yet another box to tick, hoop to jump through. Most of these additional pressures on teachers can be accommodated by a couple less hours sleep, but to embed sustainability in the classroom and school takes a bit more….

It seems to me teachers are really at the sharp end. They’re the ones having to help the next generation cope with the mess this and previous generations have inadvertently left behind. I’m talking about global inequalities, loss of biodiversity, dwindling resources, overconsumption, and climate change to name the first that come to mind. A question I often ask pupils and teachers is “what could sustainable future look like?” What would be the same, what would be different? Well like me they’re not at all sure. The snag is that if you want to get somewhere (and we need to get somewhere sustainable fast) we need to have an idea of where we’re going. In addition to all of that young people need some good role models, and it falls on the poor old teacher to provide that too.

So putting aside the piles of marking and detentions and lesson preparation and extra curricular activities let alone the teaching we are asking teachers to be:

* Up to date with the latest thinking on all things sustainable.
* Have a good grasp of the “big picture”
* Have a sensible idea of what a sustainable world might look like
* Have some realistic ideas of how we may get there.
* Have an optimistic outlook about our future.
* Be able to accept student’s concerns or denial and still motivate them to be part of the solution.
* Be a role model, i.e. actually live their lives sustainably.

So this is a call to all those valiant school workers who turn up in class with their bicycle clips round their ankles, their lunch boxes full of local veggies, Oxfam labels peeping over the neck of their sweater, caring and acting passionately about a sustainable future. Both we at CAT and planet earth salute you!

P.S. If you’re one of those overwhelmed teachers reading this, do get in touch or look on our web page. We can help!