In late October I hosted (with fantastic help from Kim Meredith) a group of 80 teachers in a World Cafe as part of the BC Teacher's for Peace and Global Education conference in Victoria, BC. The conference theme was "The Green Challenge: Environmental Sustainability and the Challenges for Canada". After a morning panel with speakers including Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Irwin Blanca, Dr. Richard Kool and Dr. Frank Tester, the teachers moved into a flurry of conversation over lunch and then on to the Cafe for the first few hours of the afternoon.
At the end of the Cafe I asked the teachers to reflect on two questions and I share some of the Harvest with you here:
1. "What has been your major learning or insight so far?"
“Both private and public school teachers see the change danger of education becoming irrelevant due to overregulation which keeps teachers from teaching their passion.”
“Self-education, reflection, action. Education is crucial to critical thinking and action.”
“Even if ‘administration’ may not be supportive of certain actions continue your passion, engage, collaborate for sustainability and for the good, colleagues will thrive off of your energy and a new synergy will be born. Self-educate, reflect, action (a great motto).”
“To effect change in my students it takes active involvement by the teacher and the students to engage interest and promote growth and commitment. Go outside the classroom.”
“To ensure that I am relaying messages of HOPE and not despair to my students.”
2. "What will it take to create change on this issue?"
“Face fear, be courageous, listen to understand others viewpoints and focus on our common values. Encourage dialogue – open and inviting. Model action/behaviours that show maturity and responsibility. More curriculum to be ecologically-based.”
“Create more opportunities to connect to as many others as possible, students and teacher. Recognize and share common goals with as many people as possible.”
“Bring students, facilities/grounds keepers, teachers, principals and janitors together in a multi-stakeholder group (Sustainability Advisory Committee) so that we are accountable in a democratic decision-making process. Provide training and education opportunities for school staff including groundskeepers and janitors.”
“Let teachers administrate. Let teachers challenge their students. Let students help create their own curriculum.”
These are some of many heartfelt comments that were gathered that afternoon after a rich and energetic conversation. It's clear that the teachers who were present are passionate and caring individuals looking to create positive change for their students, the wider community and the world.