On 4 September 2018, a full day workshop titled: Ecoliteracy Workshop: The Earth Charter & Education for Sustainable Development as a Meta Curriculum took place in Vancouver, Canada with the purpose to highlight how pre-service teachers might bring sustainability education into their practice.
The organizers and facilitators of this workshop were three participants of the Earth Charter Education Center’s Online Certificate on Education for Sustainable Development: Tina Walker, Resource Teacher K-12 (School District 68 & 79); Les Malbon, Professor Sport Health and Physical Education, and Wendy Simms, Faculty Science & Technology. Participants of this training workshop were 100 pre-service teachers enrolled at Vancouver Island University in the Bachelor of Education Post Baccalaureate Degree program.
The workshop was held at the Morecroft Regional Park in Nanoose BC, Canada. The facilitators used the outdoor location to allow the students to connect to nature and understand how nature can be both a classroom and a teacher. The guiding theme of “place” was used so that students could experience “place” as the integrating context for teaching and learning.
The workshop introduced the First People Principles of Learning, how to honour Aboriginal worldview, and local protocol for the Snuneymuxw First Nations traditional territory on Newcastle Island, BC. In addition, the facilitators presented the Earth Charter as a global ethical framework for sustainability, and the Earth Charter and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a meta-curriculum for both an individual classroom teacher and whole school approach.
Some of the unique activities of the workshop included learning from First Nations Métis Elder ‘Auntie’ Stella Johnson about traditional teachings of the land, writing a letter to the future to a great grandchild in regards to current environmental choices, reflecting in a “nature sit spot,” and an Indigenous Medicinal Plant Walk introduction.
At the end of the workshop, students were able to describe local Aboriginal protocols, apply the Earth Charter as a framework for teaching values education, sustainability, and ecological worldview, design cross-curricular environmental education lesson plans with relevant resources, and more.
According to Les Malbon, “a significant majority of students were grateful to be exposed to this methodology and are now willing to introduce the Earth Charter, SDG’s, and transformational and experiential learning in an outdoor educational experience.”