The Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions and Vygotsky: Fostering Ecological Action and Environmental Citizenship
Lysack, Mishka, McGill Journal of Education (Online)
ABSTRACT. The Teach-in on Global Warming Solutions is part of a larger socio-environmental movement concerned with combating climate change. Highlighting the history and elements of the teach-in as a model of learning, the article examines the teach-in movement, using a local event at the University of Calgary as an illustration. Conceptual resources from Vygotsky - the Zone of Proximal Development, and learning as social/relational transaction - are used to illuminate specific aspects of the teach-in. The article concludes by discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the global warming movement regarding public education.
LE FORUM ÉDUCATIF SUR LES SOLUTIONS POSSIBLES AU RÉCHAUFFEMENT DE LA PLANÉTE ET VYGOTSKY : FAVORISER UNE ACTION CITOYENNE POUR L'ÉCOLOGIE L'ENVIRONNEMENT
RÉSUMÉ. Le forum éducatif sur les solutions possibles au réchauffement de la planète est partie intégrante d'un vaste mouvement socio-environnemental visant à lutter contre les changements climatiques. Retraçant l'historique et les éléments du forum qui en font un modèle d'apprentissage en s'appuyant sur un événement ayant eu lieu à l'Université de Calgary, cet article fait l'examen du mouvement des forums éducatifs. Les concepts mis de l'avant par Vygotsky - tels que la zone proximale de développement et la cognition résultant de processus d'interaction socio-relationnelle - sont mis à profit pour illustrer les défis et les opportunités auxquels font face les tenants des mouvements anti-réchauffement climatique en termes d'éducation publique.
MISKA LYSACK University of Calgary
I think H. G. Wells has it right when he said that we are in a race between education and catastrophe. (Orr, 2004, p. xiv)
On a Friday afternoon in a Calgary winter, a young woman nervously and yet purposively arose from her seat in a large room to express her concerns about global warming. But rather than confining herself to speaking about her fears regarding climate change, she passionately described how this environmental crisis also represents an opportunity to create a more just and sustainable society. She was followed by an expert on solar energy who talked eloquently about buildings and climate change, after which a biologist spoke affectionately about his work with polar bears, underlining his fears about the prospects for survival of this species. Each of the three speakers addressed a group of forty to fifty persons for ten minutes.
After the three speakers concluded, the facilitator thanked the three speakers and invited the crowd to break into small groups to discuss what elements of the presentations resonated with each person in a personal manner, or what aspects of the mini-talks captured their imagination. As the participants shared their responses in small groups in this second phase, the speakers hovered outside the groups, eavesdropping on the conversations for the next twenty minutes, noting the elements of the discussions which touched them in some way. Finally, the facilitator invited the groups to conclude their deliberations, allowing the three initial speakers to share their brief reflections on what they heard in the discussions, providing a circular closure or literary inclusio to the hour of listening and dialogue. For four hours, this same three-fold pattern - speakers, dialogue groups, speakers - within an hour-long format was repeated with different presenters and participants. During this time, multiple speakers of diverse ages shared their responses to the two key questions that lay at the heart of the educational event: 1) what concerns you the most about global warming? 2) what does your specific profession have to offer by way of solutions to the problem of climate change?
As one begins to reflect on this event, some questions emerge: what was the nature of the educational event that was taking place in this crowded room over a four hour period? What was the social movement that provided a larger context for these learning events? …