One of the main goals of ESD is that pupils become active citizens who care for and are engaged in the community/society they live in as well as the world beyond. An important part of this learning process is to get some experience of interacting with the local community.
Interacting with local bodies/organizations/groups/networks (such as local authorities, parents associations, local companies and NGOs) is an excellent opportunity to get some practical experience in civics and to train and develop several skills like communicating verbally and in writing. It is also an opportunity to improve the pupils’ understanding of the values in their society.
Interdisciplinary use of knowledge
Depending on the themes you decide to work with, a range of school subjects can be involved. In this case, looking at maps to discuss alternative ways to get to school, calculating distances, perhaps comparing with the situation in other regions or countries – which can involve the interaction with other schools, creating models and posters and skits, making interviews, studying the environmental effects of traffic, finding out who has the responsibility for the school bus, who are the local traffic planners, why does the traffic situation look the way it does, what has been done in other places to solve similar problems – all these topics and questions can involve basically all subjects depending on how one chooses to work.
When planning ESD activities, consider how an interdisciplinary perspective can provide deeper insights into topics in the subject curriculum.
ESD is truly cross-sectoral and may be just as attractive for someone concerned with sustainable economic growth as for someone whose main entry point is environmental or socio-cultural issues. This also means you may find local partners in either ”camp”.
Local cooperation needs local design
How one chooses to interact with the local community is of course determined by the society and local customs.
In countries where politicians have a more informal approach, it may be easy to get a member of the local government to come to the classroom or invite the class to the town hall. In a less open society, this might be both difficult to achieve and it may be more rewarding to invite civil society representatives from organizations working with a related topic.
To give some ideas, we imagine that one or more of the following groups might come into question:
In the end, whom you chose to cooperate with or invite depends on the focus you/your class has chosen and what methods you wish to use. Do you want to present something to a local politician or work with a local bike path group? Are you looking for a single meeting or a longer joint project? Again, it is up to you to choose how, and there are endless variations, depending on the age group, setting and your interests. This is just to give some ideas: