OLD ASSESSMENT – SOSE ESSAY (recieved a Distinction)

7988 Social and Environmental Education 1

Assessment 1 (Essay):

What makes an effective HSS teacher in the area of SUSTAINABILITY within early childhood education?

In order to understand what makes an effective Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) teacher in the area of sustainability, one must know what the word sustainability means. There are different descriptions on what sustainability and sustainability education is and what it does for students’ education. The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2010) claims, “sustainability is about reducing our ecological footprint while simultaneously improving the quality of life that we value”; while Reynolds (2012) adds that sustainability is about reducing our “negative impact on the environment, while improving the quality of life of our society”. Sustainability education is fundamentally about values, respect for others, including those of present and future generations, for the environment, and for the resources of the planet we inhabit (UNESCO, 2008); but the most common belief about sustainability education is that it “addresses the ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life” (ACARA, n.d.; ACARA, 2012). This paper will address why sustainability is included in HSS education, the many educational matters related to teaching sustainability in early childhood, and cite evidence in support of the many facets that create an effective HSS teacher in the area of sustainability.

Australia has an international reputation for leading-edge education for sustainability practice (DEWHA, 2009), and includes it within the HSS framework as a cross-curriculum priority; although evidence in the early childhood sector has “been slow to take up the challenge of sustainability” (Davis, 2005) with the new national curriculum, this is slowly beginning to change. HSS “provides content that supports the development of students’ world views, particularly in relation to” the access and use of the Earth’s resources (ACARA, n.d.). So it stands to reason that sustainability would be a logical inclusion into HSS education. ACARA (n.d.) states that education for sustainability “develops the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary for people to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living.” They add that it also “enables individuals and communities to reflect on ways of interpreting and engaging with the world”, which are important needs of the present (ACARA, n.d.). This engagement is achieved by creating “a renewed and balanced approach to the way humans interact with each others and the environment” (ACARA, n.d.). Sustainability, a cross- curriculum priority in the Australian Curriculum (AC), is focused mainly on 3 topic areas: Systems, World Views, and Futures (ACARA, n.d.).

Effective sustainability educators will teach students: about how all life forms are connected to the earth, and how sustainable patterns of living rely on healthy ecological systems; to recognize that individual and community actions for sustainability rely on that of the local, national and global levels (ACARA, n.d.); and that an effective environmental education for sustainability curriculum provides the knowledge and understandings, skills, attitudes and values, and opportunities for participation and action that will help students to create a sustainable future (DEH, 2005).

Teaching these skills and attributes at an early age is crucial for creating “a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action” (ACARA, n.d.), because as students begin to understand the role of ethical principles, values and virtues in human life, acting with moral integrity, acting with regard for others, and having a desire and capacity to work for common good, they begin to develop ethical behavior and become well-informed citisens. (ACARA, 2012). Early childhood students develop understanding of the changes in environment over time, and the roles played by individuals and communities or the overuse of natural resource and the rise of environmental movements (ACARA, n.d.). It is important to note that the reason that these ideas and skills are taught at the K-2 sector is because “it is important for young children to learn to listen to other opinions, and respect others as well as to respect one’s self and express one’s own thoughts. It is also important for children to experience that their voices are heard and dealt with in a respected way” (UNESCO, 2008). It is also important to start teaching sustainability in early childhood because “young students are curious about their personal world and are interested in exploring it” (ACARA, 2012), and as stated before,

Kimberly Hall U3071645 SOSE Essay Extended Assessment 2

teaching students early on will ensure a well-informed citizen in the future because with guidance “even very young children are able to critically respond to environmental issues” (Davis, 2005). Furthermore, “sustainability should begin very early in life” (UNESCO, 2008) because at the K-2 sector children are developing their basic values, attitudes, skills, behaviours and habits” (UNESCO, 2008).

The AC’s draft Geography document (2012) emphasizes inquiry-based learning and teaching, and suggests opportunities for student-led questioning and that investigation should be provided at all stages of schooling. This method commonly results in the use of informal assessment, a tick mark sheet marked with abilities or knowledge achieved, almost achieved, or not. On the other hand, formal assessment is common in this area and is achieved by assessing the completion of projects and activities. Either way, an effective sustainability education teacher will utilize these essential teaching strategies and “the basic characteristics of curriculum planning to promote environmental education for sustainability” (DEH, 2005). This basic characteristics would include: ensuring that the key concepts of sustainability are clearly identified and coordinated wherever they appear in the curriculum and are reinforced through all key learning areas (DEH, 2005); ensuring that the students’ prior understandings are identified and inform the planning process (DEH, 2005); enabling all students to relate to their surroundings as a frame of reference and ensuring that content is relevant to their own lives (DEH, 2005; ACARA, 2012); adapting the curriculum in response to change and developments in the wider world; and ensuring that the curriculum matches the needs and interests of students and monitors and evaluates their learning from the beginning of their education (DEH, 2005). As part of Professional Practice, it is important for an effective teacher in sustainable education to include a variety of strategies that engage students in their learning (AITSL, 2011) by framing questions, evaluating the findings of investigations, guiding decisions and planning actions about environments, places and communities (ACARA, 2012). A range of techniques are available that encourage students to “explore environmental issues, generate possibilities and look for possible answers or solutions” (DEH, 2005). An effective sustainable education teacher in early childhood needs “to provide opportunities for divergent, multidimensional thinking” (DEH, 2005), and should relate all teaching plans to Bloom’s revised taxonomy table, which includes a range of higher and lower order thinking categories such as: creating, evaluating, analyzing, applying, understanding, and remembering (Tarlinton, 2003). Effective teachers of environmental education for sustainability should also recognise and respond to the four dimensions of the learner: reflective and deep thinker, ethical and responsible thinker, connected learner, and autonomous learner (DEH, 2005), because these emerging challenges are imminent. (DEH, 2005)

The teaching strategies related to sustainability education are vast and varied, but a preferred way for teaching sustainability and organizing the experiences within an environmental education program is to use the about, in, for framework (DEH, 2005). Education about the environment focuses on students’ understanding of the basic concepts and theories first (DEH, 2005; Kershaw, 2013). Education in the environment involves placing students into the environment and in direct contact “with a beach, forest, street or park to develop awareness and concern for the environment” (DEH, 2005; Fleer, 1998) in order to create an emotional connection in the students hearts (Kershaw, 2013); including fieldwork at all stages of the curriculum is an essential component of geographical learning (ACARA, 2012). This strategy, considered to be founded by great theorists like John Dewey, Kurt Lewin and

Jean Piaget (Miettinen, 2000), is called experiential learning, sometimes called ‘learning by doing’ or ‘hands on’, a strategy which is usually attributed to Vygotsky and Piaget for their kinaesthetic focus (Kershaw, 2013), “engages students in constructing knowledge, skills and values from direct experience and in contexts that are personally relevant to them” (DEH, 2005). Examples of this strategy include making toys from recycled items or paintings that show students’ understanding and solutions to real world problems (UNESCO, 2008). Education for the environment aims to promote a willingness and ability to adopt lifestyles that are compatible with the wise use of environmental resources (DEH, 2005) by having students create or participate in a sustainable project which Kimberly Hall U3071645 SOSE Essay Extended Assessment 3

promotes concrete actions in favour of the environment (Kershaw, 2013; UNESCO, 2008). This can be achieved by using the inquiry learning strategy, which “encourages students to respond to their own concern or curiosity and to investigate and act on an environmental issue” (DEH, 2005), because according to educational change theorist, Michael Fullan it only takes a small number of actions that help create deep-level change (UNESCO, 2008). Examples of this strategy in the K-2 sector would be to collect food scraps for composting for a school vegetable garden or flowerbed (Fleer, 1998). Further project ideas on lessons in sustainable education, found in the Sustainability Curriculum Framework (2010), are: ways humans care for themselves, others and for other species (DEWHA, 2010); how children all over the world are working for sustainability and the reasons why it would be valuable to link up with them (DEWHA, 2010); local plants and ecosystems that provided food for first Australians (DEWHA, 2010); and, identify and give reasons for change in objects, places and behaviour over the immediate past (DEWHA, 2010).

It is essential for teachers in the sustainable education area to engage in Professional Engagement and continually pursue professional development (AITSL, 2011)by reading articles on sustainability, attending workshops and seminars on environmental education, and seek advice and constructive feedback from supervisors and fellow teachers to improve knowledge and practice (AITSL, 2011). A story written about the Sustainable Planet Project (SPP) held in Brisbane, Queensland in 1997 that “led to enhanced play spaces, reduced waste, lowered water consumption and improved biodiversity” (Davis, 2005), promoted active citizenship in young learners, and led to tangible environmental outcomes (Davis, 2005), is an example of how reading journal articles on sustainability can promote professional development in teachers. Within the SPP article, Davis (2005) states that the staff involved used reflection, regular attendance of conferences and workshops, the undertaking of courses to upgrade qualifications, networking through professional associations, and actively seeking visitors to the centre who can share expert knowledge, team planning sessions where issues of curriculum and pedagogy are regularly discussed and debated as examples of their pursuit of professional development. Davis (2005) goes on to suggest that both “formal and informal approaches to professional development have generated a ‘grass roots’ collaborative learning culture which supports learning for the children, teachers, families and the community at large”.

It is clear, therefore, that to be an effective early childhood teacher in the area of sustainability one must pursue professional development in order to gain up-to-date content knowledge in sustainability education, and utilise vast and varied strategies and effective methods for teaching sustainability education. In conclusion, this paper has proven that sustainability education is an essential part of early childhood HSS teaching because it constructs varying benefits for the teacher, student, and local community involved. This paper has also found that there are many facets involved in creating an effective early childhood teacher in the area of sustainability, which includes strategies and effective methods for teaching, such as experiential learning, the use of higher and lower order thinking, and inquiry-based approaches.

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ACARA. (n.d.). ACARA Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Retrieved April 28th, 2013, from Cross-Curriculum Priorities – Sustainability: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/CrossCurriculumPriorities/Sustainability

ACARA. (2012). Draft F-12 Australian Curriculum: Geography. ACARA Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Canberra: ACARA.

AITSL. (2011). National Professional Standards for Teachers. Austrlian Institute For Teaching and School Leadership, Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs . VIC: Education Services Australia.

Davis, J. (2005). Educating for sustainability in the early years creating cultural change in a child care setting. Australian Journal of Environment Education , 21, 47-55.

DEH. (2005). Educating For A Sustainable Future: A National Environmental Education Statement for Australian Schools. Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Heritage. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

DEWHA. (2009). Living Sustainably: The Australian Government’s National Action Plan for Education for Sustainability. Australian Government, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

DEWHA. (2010). Sustainability Curriculum Framework: A guide for curriculum developers and policy makers. Australian Government, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Fleer, M. (1998). What is environmental education? Every Child , 4 (4).
Kershaw, K. (2013). Week 3: Sustainability [Study Notes]. Social and Environmental Education 1 .

University of Canberra.
Miettinen, R. (2000). The concept of experiential learning and John Dewey’s theory of reflective

thought and action. International Journal of Lifelong Education , 19 (1), 54-72.
Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching History, Geography & SOSE in the Primary School. South Melbourne:

Oxford University Press.

Tarlinton, D. (2003). Blooms Revised Taxonomy [Week 10 Handout]. Retrieved from Social and Environmental Education 1: http://www.kurwongbss.eq.edu.au/thinking/Bloom/blooms.htm\

UNESCO. (2008). The contribution of early childhood education to a sustainable society. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Paris: UNESCO.


Friday, February 15th, 2013: Arts Education Report (DISTINCTION)

Received a (75–84% (Distinction) for the unit.

Arts Education Report (500 words)

Student Number & Name Kimi Year of Student Year 4
Student Visual Arts Report (500 words)Kimi showed extreme interest and enthusiasm in her art workshops. She achieved year-level outcomes for appreciating the use of particular artistic techniques and identifying connections between artworks. Kimi displays increased confidence and artistic skill development through her emotional response using colour and line; and her participation in printmaking, exceeding the task outcome by creating two stencils, and three prints.Kimi experienced tactile hesitation towards using charcoal for the first time, and while the task wasn’t mandatory, managed to overcome her discomfort and finish the drawing exercise later at her own pace. While having prior knowledge in painting and drawing, her colour mixing skills in creating values and tones are beginning to show progress; her drawing skills showed no significant progress but with practice should improve.

Kimi has satisfactorily completed all visual art tasks during the duration of the workshops and demonstrates an awareness of visual art concepts, including presentation, through drawing/painting/colour mixing/printing/ceramic activities.

Key Learning Areas/Outcomes

Stage 2:

  • VAS2.2 – Uses the forms to suggest the qualities of subject matter (NSW, 2006).
  • Experimented with techniques in painting, drawing, printmaking and ceramics to create effects.
    • VAS2.4 – Identifies connections between subject matter in artworks and what they refer to, and appreciates the use of particular techniques (NSW, 2006).
    • Identifies resemblances between subject matter in artworks and the features of things as they exist in the world, recognising similarities and differences in how things are represented in the artworks

Years 3-4:

  • They will learn to present their work for others to view, and to understand that presentations (including exhibitions) have a purpose (ACARA Australian Curriculum, 2011).
  • Students will develop skills as they consciously start to experiment with equipment, materials, media and technologies (ACARA Australian Curriculum, 2011)

Late Childhood:

  • 7.LC.3 – learns about traditions and techniques associated with different artistic works in the visual arts (e.g. drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture) (ACT, 2007).
  • 7.LC.6 – learns to explore different materials, techniques and processes to make 2D and 3D artistic works (ACT, 2007).
  • 7.LC.12 – learns to interpret and respond to a range of artistic works, identifying some of the skills, elements and techniques used to create meanings and giving reasons for their interpretations and preferences (ACT, 2007).
Research Justification (350 words)Darby (2013) says that writing reports “should be a positive experience”. I agree and will begin by stating that in my opinion ‘interest’ and ‘enthusiasm’ create ‘engagement’. This is important to note in report writing because as Eisner (1998) states “engagement with the arts helps young people become more aware of multiple perspectives”, and offers students “different ways of looking at things” which “opens up the way to learn respect for other people’s views” (Eisner, 1998). These views also help students to express opinions about how art is represented in particular forms and aids them to “appreciate the skills involved to achieve these effects” (NSW, 2006). This report has commented on skills that needed improvement. Collins stated “the trick to report writing is to write the anti-report, and then reword it in a politically correct way” (2012); which is what I’ve tried to do. This idea is backed by Darby who said that the most important to keep in mind is “that reporting is as much about improving future performance as it is about commenting on past achievements” (Darby, 2013). The Department of Education and Training in ACT adds that “the key purpose of reporting is to support student learning by providing information to students and parents or carers about student achievement and progress and to indicate areas for further development” (ACT, 2007), and I’ve tried to do just that.A difficult task in writing this report that I’ve encountered was finding a way to fit in specific language, and all key learning areas within a short word count. I decided to report on the most significant areas and to use simple language. I did this so that the report would be readable by anyone, because “teachers must ensure that…reports are understandable to students and parents” (ACT, 2007). And finally, I think most importantly, the report is based on key learning areas for a Year 4 student in visual arts. Almost everything I commented on is based on a specific KLA (as can be seen in the chart above). For instance I referred to ‘particular artistic techniques and identifying connections between artworks’; this is directly correlated to “VAS2.2 – Uses the forms to suggest the qualities of subject matter” (NSW, 2006); and “VAS2.4 – Identifies connections between subject matter in artworks and what they refer to, and appreciates the use of particular techniques” (NSW, 2006).
References (minimum of 4 academic references)ACARA Australian Curriculum, A. a. (2011). Shape of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. Retrieved February 15th, 2013 from Australian Curriculum: http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum_The_Arts_-_Compressed.pdfACT, Department of Education and Training. (2007). Every chance to learn: Curriculum Framework for ACT Schools: Preschool to Year 10. Stirling, ACT: ACT Dept. of Education and Training.

Collins, A. (2012). Week 6: Intro Seminar. [Lecture Notes]. Unit 8915 Arts Education. University of Canberra

Darby, D. M. (2013). Student Reports Checklist. Retrieved February 15th, 2013 from Artseducationguru.com: http://artseducationguru.com/student-reports-checklist/

Eisner, E. (1998). Does experience in the arts boost academic achievement? Journal of Art and Design Education, 17 (1), 51-60.

NSW, Board of Studies. (2006). Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus. Retrieved February 15th, 2013 from http://k6.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/files/arts/k6_creative_arts_syl.pdf

Arts Education Statement (500 words): “Arts Education is an essential part of a well rounded education.”

The role of arts education fits many needs within a well-rounded education. Arts education is an essential part of curriculum because “it helps create well-rounded people” (Collins, 2012); it links to Key Learning Areas and helps to engage students in learning (Collins, 2012); it “nurtures the importance of having passions” (Collins, 2012) and is a positive outlet (Collins, 2012).

Drama is a collaborative process in which participants use their “critical thinking abilities, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and empathic responses” (Poston-Anderson, 2007) through imitation “make believe, and social interaction with real and imaginary others” (Koster, 2009). The National Dance Education Organization (2013) categorises dance as a “basic form of cultural expression” (NDEO, 2013) that “integrates kinesthetic learning with understanding” (NDEO, 2013). Payne (1992) suggests that dance is especially appropriate for children with language, communication, or learning difficulties. Visual arts education builds visual perception, nurtures creative thinking (Koster, 2009). Visual Arts can also “externalize ideas, feelings and beliefs, and convey meanings and messages” (Wright, 1997) that are otherwise difficult to. Music education creates “the development of attitudes and behaviours that promote school performance” (McCarthy, 2004) where students learn how to collaborate with others, accept constructive criticism and develop a sense of self-efficacy (McCarthy, 2004). Music helps stimulate brain growth, well being (Koster, 2009) and develops self-discipline, understanding of consequences, and teamwork, “skills that promote success in life as well as school” (McCarthy, 2004). Music education benefits also stem from the planning and practice required preparing for a performance and “activities that depend on teamwork and trust” (McCarthy, 2004).

The arts education “improves attitudes and skills that promote the learning process”, “particularly the ability to learn how to learn” as well as increases school attendance and interest in school (McCarthy, 2004, p. 8). Studies show students who participate in arts education outperform academically “arts poor students by virtually every measure” (Dinham, 2011) and that “sustained involvement in particular art forms” is highly correlated with success in mathematics and reading and significant positive effects on learning in other domains” (Dinham, 2011) as well. “The arts allow perception, awareness, judgment and the expression of ideas to occur in ways that are not purely linguistic or mathematical, as in reading, writing, science and technology study” (Wright, 1997). Arts education also enhances basic life skills “such as grades and test scores” (Dinham, 2011), communication skills and increases self-esteem and confidence (Arts, 2004). A recent study by The Australia Council for the Arts (2010) stated that the one individual benefit of the arts was intellectual growth, “exposing us to new ideas and getting us to question things” (Arts, 2010).

I feel it is important for arts education to be integrated in the school curriculum for many reasons, that benefit the student and the community (Koster, 2009) as it offers “a significant educational contribution to a child’s development and future role in society” (Dinham, 2011). When the arts are taught well, students are engaged in learning (Eisner, 1998) and they “begin to make connections to the social and cultural world beyond the school” and are “able to understand the importance of social responsibility”; develop emotional intelligence and express their feelings in a coherent way and therefore are sensitive to the feelings of others (Eisner, 1998).


ACARA Australian Curriculum, A. a. (2011). Shape of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. Retrieved February 15th, 2013 from Australian Curriculum: http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum_The_Arts_-_Compressed.pdf

ACT, D. o. (2007). Every chance to learn: Curriculum Framework for ACT Schools: Preschool to Year 10. Stirling, ACT: ACT Dept. of Education and Training.

Arts, A. C. (2004). Education and the Arts Strategy 2004-2007. Sydney: Australia Council for the Arts.

Arts, A. C. (2010). More than Bums on Seats: Australian Participation in the Arts. Sydney: Australia Council for the Arts.

Collins, A. (2012). Week 6: Intro Seminar. [Lecture Notes]. Unit 8915 Arts Education .

Darby, D. M. (2013). Student Reports Checklist. Retrieved February 15th, 2013 from Artseducationguru.com: http://artseducationguru.com/student-reports-checklist/

Dinham, J. (2011). Delivering authentic arts education: visual arts, drama, music, dance, media. South Melbourne, VIC: Cengage Learning.

Eisner, E. (1998). Does experience in the arts boost academic achievement? Journal of Art and Design Education , 17 (1), 51-60.

Koster, J. (2009). Growing Artists: Teaching the Arts to Young Children (4th Edition). New York: Delmar Publishing.

McCarthy, K. Z. (2004). Gifts of the muse: Reframing the debate about the benefits of the arts. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

NDEO. (2013). Philosophy, Early Childhood Standards. Retrieved February 1st, 2013 from National Dance Education Organization: http://www.ndeo.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=893257&module_id=55419

NSW, B. o. (2006). Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus. Retrieved February 15th, 2013 from http://k6.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/files/arts/k6_creative_arts_syl.pdf

Payne, H. (1992). Dance Movement Therapy: Theory and Practice. Tavistock: Routledge.

Poston-Anderson, B. (2007). Drama: Learning Connections in Primary Schools. Australia & New Zealand: Oxford University Press.

Wright, S. (1997). Learning how to learn the arts as core in an emergent curriculum. Childhood Education , 16 (8), 361-365.