Investigating early childhood education for sustainability : insights from history and literature

Elliott, Sue & Davis, Julie M. (2013) Investigating early childhood education for sustainability : insights from history and literature. In Elliott, S., Edwards, S., Davis, J., & Cutter-Mackenzie, A. (Eds.) Early Childhood Australia's Best of Sustainability : Research, Practice and Theory. Early Childhood Australia Inc, Canberra, ACT, pp. 4-10.

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Seemingly straightforward tasks often have a way of becoming complex. This was the case for our guest editorial team charged with creating Early Childhood Australia’s Best of Sustainability publication drawn from the the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood and Every Child. The complexities we encountered ranged from the varied terminologies and understandings of constructs such as education for sustainable development, environmental education and education for sustainability, through to the fundamental lack of published research on which to draw as the basis for a special issue. It is timely to explore these complexities as we face the global challenges of The Critical Decade (DCCEE, 2011) including rising sea levels, extreme weather events and food security. At a local level, the early childhood field in Australia is seeking to interpret sustainability with systemic support from the National Quality Standards(NQS) (ACECQA, 2011), while elsewhere environmental/sustainability education is encouraged through national curricula documents (for example, Singapore Ministry of Education, 2008; Swedish National Agency for Education,2010; Ministry of Education of Korea, 2011). Both The Critical Decade and the NQS provide imperatives to drive early childhood education’s engagement with sustainability. In other words, sustainability in early childhood education is no longer optional, but essential (Elliott, 2010). While some twenty years of advocacy has led to this somewhat subdued celebratory position, in this publication we do recognise the historical contexts that have led to early childhood education for sustainability (ECEfS), as we (Elliott & Davis) phrase it, becoming almost ‘mainstream not marginal’ (Davis, 1999)— a stitching together of the isolated ‘patches of green’, first identified a decade ago by Elliott (NSW EPA, 2003). Here we weave together, through these articles, a story of the evolving history of ECEfS from our particular perspective. In so doing, we also acknowledge that there are other perspectives or ‘paths’ for this field as identified by Edwards and Cutter-McKenzie in their concluding paper to this compilation.

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ID Code: 74897
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: early childhood education, education for sustainability, environmental education, education for sustainable development
ISBN: 1921162686
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT (050200) > Environmental Education and Extension (050203)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development (130202)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
Deposited On: 12 Aug 2014 01:18
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2014 02:02

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