Embodied Education: Reflections on Sustainable Education

By Marcus Bussey.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores the thinking that lead to the author’s earlier article, written as an entry, for UNESCO’s Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS) entitled “Sustainable Education: Imperatives for a Viable Future”. The present paper links this thinking to the author’s endeavours as a teacher in a wide range of settings: university, secondary, primary and instrumental music. It is an attempt to answer holistic educational philosopher Ron Miller’s question: ‘How can we teach what we do not live?’ (Miller 2000: 53). The paper links the author’s own life journey as a teacher of over 20 years to the literature that has informed and shaped his earlier reflections for the UNESCO article. This is in many ways a personal exploration or meditation on what it means to try and teach from a neohumanist paradigm committed to holistic sustainability. This phenomenological positioning follows what Kesson, Traugh and Perez III call ‘descriptive inquiry’ (2006: 1862). The presentation can be seen as an example of embodied futures thinking that is explored through a narrative presentation drawing on the author’s own experience and practice. The environments that shaped this line of thought, while not explicitly present within the body of the paper, include P. R. Sarkar’s neohumanist schools, Montessori schools, the Suzuki music studio, John Holt’s democratic schools, the current development of an online PROUT College (www.proutcollege.org) and finally my experiences teaching undergraduates at university. The central thesis of this paper is that teachers need to embody, albeit imperfectly, the stance they take in the educational arena in their own lives. Thus, in the context of this article, it is argued that there is a direct link between sustainable education and those teaching it, living lives aligned with this pedagogical focus. In this the author takes to heart the well known phrase from Mahatma Gandhi: Be the change you want to see in the world!

Keywords: Sustainable Education, Neohumanism, Descriptive Inquiry, Futures Thinking

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.139-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 569.355KB).

Marcus Bussey

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maleny, Queensland, Australia

My central interest is in developing transformative teaching processes that generate sustainable life values and skills in students, their families and the community. I have taught in holistic environments with both a spiritual and social focus. Neohumanist futures education is a central theme in my intellectual and practitioner life and I have just finished editing a book with that title with Sohail Inayatullah and Ivana Milojevic. I use creative and interior processes to open children and their families to the possibility of social and personal change that validates sustainable life choices. My work builds on critical pedagogic methodology, extending this field through the application of critical spirituality. My interests are in trans-civilizational dialogue in which I use various categories (linguistic, social, aesthetic, etc...) to challenge assumptions that close down future possibilities. At present I am particlularly interested in contrasting the work of Gilles Deleuze and Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar as a set of coordinates for this civilizational dialogue. A new book on educational futures will be out next year. Here are the details: Alternative Educational Futures: Pedagogies for an Emergent World Bussey, Inayatullah & Milojevic, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, 2008.


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