Personalization, Proficiencies and Flexible Pathways: Through the Lens of Education for Sustainability (EFS)

This post is from PLP Pathways contributor Lindsey Halman, teacher and founder of The Edge Academy, Essex Middle School.

What if it was possible to unite Vermont schools around the mission of creating sustainable futures for its youth, its community, the global population beyond our local and national borders, and the planet? Envision a community engaged in learning beyond conventional school hours and walls, committed to creating a socially and economically just and sustainable society.

Education for sustainability (EFS), along with the tenets of Act 77, lends itself to learning with deep meaning embedded in it so that youth, and their adult partners, care about making change for the better. A sustainable future depends on humans figuring out how to live with one another, themselves, and the planet in a more sustainable way. Youth need access to a practice with these ideas from a very young age. What better way to practice and to develop a sense of meaning or purpose in schools than working toward answers to local and global issues, while expanding the network of youth working toward solutions toward these issue and concerns.

On September 21, 2016, partners from around the state gathered at the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms to begin formulating questions together that will guide a year of exploration. Together, the hope is to cultivate authentic youth-adult partnerships engaged in learning toward a sustainable future. The vision for this work is for it to continue as ongoing, annually so that schools can work beyond their walls and youth can practice proficiencies in multiple settings, with diverse audiences, with real world problems driving their learning. Now is the time to leverage the excitement and focus on the opportunities personalized learning and flexible pathways provide in our communities.

This is how Cultivating Pathways to Sustainability came about and the following blog post captures the essence of this work: Shelburne Farms Blog Post