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Sustainability Thinking:
A Major Paradigm Shift in Philosophy, Pedagogy,
and Learning Theory
Kurt Love, Ph.D.
Central Conn...
Schooling the Masses
Spent over a million dollars around the turn of
the 20th Century influencing U.S. public
education. Fi...
Schooling the Masses
Wrote in the Columbia Teachers College
Dissertation of 1905 that schools were to be
seen like factori...
Schooling the Masses
Bill Gates has been the richest person on the planet since 1995 (net worth of
$76 billion in 2015). H...
Learning is Not Neutral
Nearly all of learning as we know it today was
conceived and formed under the auspices and
demands...
Manufactured Learning
Nearly every mainstream understanding that we have about
teaching and learning at this point has bee...
“College and Career Ready”
Being successful in today’s school-to-corporation pipeline means
becoming efficient in a system ...
Sustainability Framework
Sustainability !
Environmental!
Social!
Economic
A healthy, balanced economy is dependent upon a ...
Ecological Pressures
The latest UN Report on the Climate (by the IPCC) released said:	

Fossil fuels need to be phased out...
Sustainability -
Environmental
The Earth has the ability on global and local scales to replenish itself
within a human gen...
Social and Cultural Pressures
Social and Cultural Pressures
• Dominance and privilege create “blind spots” and
defensiveness	

• People suffer immeasura...
Sustainability - Social
Working towards peace (non-
violent conflict resolution) 

- Social Studies, Health, English,
Art, ...
Economic Pressures
The Super Wealthy
In 2015, the wealthiest 0.1% in the U.S. (about 160,000 families) had about as
much a...
Sustainability - Economy
Strong local economies
and responsible global
commerce

- Social Studies, English,
Art, Math, Sci...
Convergent Thinking &
Sustainability
• Convergent thinking is the predominant way of thinking in
U.S. public schools	

• T...
Convergent Thinking
“Truth”
Standardized Thought 	

(Behavior)
Behaviorism 	

(Traditional)
“Blank Slate”
Teacher Student’...
Convergent Thinking
Cognitivism 	

(Traditional)
Standardized Thought
(Memory)
“Memory Maker”“Truth”
Teacher Student’s Bra...
Prior	

Thought
Prior	

Thought
Constructivism 	

(Liberal/Progressive)
scaffold
scaffold
Teacher Student’s Brain Student’...
Convergent Thinking
20th & 21st century learning theories (fueled by wealthy business interests)
have failed the masses an...
Re-contexualize + Re-conceptualize 

= New Education Paradigm
If we re-contextualize teaching and learning out of the “job...
Divergent Thinking &
Sustainability
• Divergent thinking is key for us to become more
sustainable, peaceful, and more pros...
Sustainability Thinking
To be prepared to create more peace and sustainability,
students will become adult members of soci...
Info
Divergent Thought 

(New Relationship)
Critical Constructivism 	

(Transformative)
Communities
Critical	

Questioning...
Sustainable and Peaceable Thinking
Divergent thinking that is
contextualized in community.This
provides students with
oppo...
References
Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.
Bowers, C. A. (2006). Revitali...
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Sustainability Thinking: A Major Paradigm Shift in Philosophy, Pedagogy and Learning Theory

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Presented at the 2015 New England Philosophy of Education Society Annual Meeting

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Sustainability Thinking: A Major Paradigm Shift in Philosophy, Pedagogy and Learning Theory

  1. 1. Sustainability Thinking: A Major Paradigm Shift in Philosophy, Pedagogy, and Learning Theory Kurt Love, Ph.D. Central Connecticut State University ! New England Philosophy of Education Society October 24, 2015 Central Connecticut State University
  2. 2. Schooling the Masses Spent over a million dollars around the turn of the 20th Century influencing U.S. public education. Financed the General Education Board which put out this statement in their Occasional Paper One (1906): John D. Rockefeller! Co-Founder (1839-1937)! Standard Oil Company In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple...we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.
  3. 3. Schooling the Masses Wrote in the Columbia Teachers College Dissertation of 1905 that schools were to be seen like factories “in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products…manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry” Ellwood P. Cubberly ! Dean (1917-1933)! Stanford University Graduate School of Education
  4. 4. Schooling the Masses Bill Gates has been the richest person on the planet since 1995 (net worth of $76 billion in 2015). He and Melinda Gates also run the world’s wealthiest charitable organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (net worth of $34.6 billion)! ! According to a Washington Post article entitled “How Bill Gates Pulled Off the Swift Common Core Revolution” by Lindsey Layton (2014), he has been the single greatest influence on the design and promotion of Common Core State Standards.! • In the summer of 2008, Bill Gates meets with two pro-standards reformers, Gene Wilhoit and David Coleman who argue that public schools all states need to follow a set of common skills in reading and math.! • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided about $200 million to not just provide the funding for the development of what became the Common Core State Standards, but also to persuade state governments and other organizations like the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers (the nation’s two largest teachers unions) to politically adopt this reform.! • They also funded research to both conservative and liberal groups in order to provide their support of the standards.! • Former Gates Foundation staffers who worked with President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan undoubtedly influenced the formation of Race to the Top competitive state grants that utilized stimulus money (in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). In order for states to rank high on the rubric, they had to adopt curriculum standards that made students “college and career ready.” States had the option of creating their own standards that did this, as long as universities agreed that these standards would meet the requirement of “college and career ready.” Or, states could simply adopt the Common Core State Standards. ! • By 2010, 45 states plus the District of Columbia adopt the Common Core State Standards. Also, 100 out of 176 Catholic diocese adopt them for their schools. Kentucky became the first state to adopt the standards. They did so before the final draft had been published. Bill Gates! Chair, CEO, Advisor (1975-Present)! Microsoft! ! Chair (2000-Present)! Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  5. 5. Learning is Not Neutral Nearly all of learning as we know it today was conceived and formed under the auspices and demands of creating mid-level workers.
  6. 6. Manufactured Learning Nearly every mainstream understanding that we have about teaching and learning at this point has been developed with the primary goal of creating mid-level workers. Standards Lobbying, Donations, Business-Government Coalitions Educational Research Workers
  7. 7. “College and Career Ready” Being successful in today’s school-to-corporation pipeline means becoming efficient in a system that is creating unsustainability Remember when people died of “consumption”? Our planet is dying of “consumption.”
  8. 8. Sustainability Framework Sustainability ! Environmental! Social! Economic A healthy, balanced economy is dependent upon a healthy, balanced society. A healthy, balanced society is dependent upon a healthy, balanced environment.
  9. 9. Ecological Pressures The latest UN Report on the Climate (by the IPCC) released said: Fossil fuels need to be phased out completely world-wide by 2100 Renewable energies growth needs to increase from its current 30% to 80% by 2050 ! Another report by ecologists (Worm et al., 2006) said: Currently, 29% of salt-water edible fish have declined by 90% representing a total collapse in fisheries A total extinction predicted by 2048
  10. 10. Sustainability - Environmental The Earth has the ability on global and local scales to replenish itself within a human generation (25 years)
 - Science, Social Studies, English, Math,TE Evolving mindset of humans as interwoven parts of nature and the Earth
 - Social Studies, Science, English, Art, Music
  11. 11. Social and Cultural Pressures
  12. 12. Social and Cultural Pressures • Dominance and privilege create “blind spots” and defensiveness • People suffer immeasurably in the current practices of globalization, which is a misnomer. Global westernization is a more accurate experience for those receiving it. • Global westernization injects societies with commerce based largely on addiction and narcissism.
  13. 13. Sustainability - Social Working towards peace (non- violent conflict resolution) 
 - Social Studies, Health, English, Art, Music, PE, Music, Solidarity - Affirmation - Critique of Power 
 - Social Studies, English, Social Work, Art, Music Health & Wellness
 - Health, PE, Science, English, Social Studies, Art, Music,Tech Ed, Math
  14. 14. Economic Pressures The Super Wealthy In 2015, the wealthiest 0.1% in the U.S. (about 160,000 families) had about as much as the bottom 90% (about 300 million people) (Saez & Zucman, 2014) In 2014, 58% of new income went to the wealthiest 1% (Saez, 2015) The Koch Brothers have about $80 billion combined. The Waltons have about $90 billion combined. ! Median Wealth In 2011, the median wealth for White households was $111,146 In 2011, the median wealth for Black households was $7,113 In 2011, the median wealth for Latino households was $8,348 (U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation) The racial wealth gap is driven largely by U.S. policy
  15. 15. Sustainability - Economy Strong local economies and responsible global commerce
 - Social Studies, English, Art, Math, Science,Tech Ed Reintegration of the cultural commons
 - Social Studies, English, Art, Science, Math, Music, Health
  16. 16. Convergent Thinking & Sustainability • Convergent thinking is the predominant way of thinking in U.S. public schools • The central goal of behaviorists, industrialists, and curriculum (standards) designers since the beginning of public schools in the U.S. has been to move all students towards convergent thinking exclusively. • Convergent thinking creates uniform thinking and is routinely decontextualized from local and global communities (aka the “real world”). • Since peace and sustainability require different ways of thinking about problems and solutions, convergent thinking is contributing to an unsustainable planet. The pedagogy of the “right” answer is the wrong answer for peace and sustainability. Decontextualized Learning Uniform Learning Compliance & “Efficiency” Competitive
  17. 17. Convergent Thinking “Truth” Standardized Thought (Behavior) Behaviorism (Traditional) “Blank Slate” Teacher Student’s Brain Student’s Performance Convergent Thinking (pedagogy of the “right” answer) - 
 All paths lead to a single destination.This is rooted in a belief that there is only one “Truth.”
  18. 18. Convergent Thinking Cognitivism (Traditional) Standardized Thought (Memory) “Memory Maker”“Truth” Teacher Student’s Brain Student’s Performance Convergent Thinking (pedagogy of the “right” answer) - 
 All paths lead to a single destination.This is rooted in a belief that there is only one “Truth.” Not the same as brain-based research!
  19. 19. Prior Thought Prior Thought Constructivism (Liberal/Progressive) scaffold scaffold Teacher Student’s Brain Student’s PerformanceStudent’s Brain “Truth” Standardized Thought 
 (New Schema) Schema Convergent Thinking Convergent Thinking (pedagogy of the “right” answer) - 
 All paths lead to a single destination.This is rooted in a belief that there is only one “Truth.”
  20. 20. Convergent Thinking 20th & 21st century learning theories (fueled by wealthy business interests) have failed the masses and the planet.They deliberately create compliance and dependency in the poor and middle classes. ! In an unsustainable world, we need learning theories and teaching practices that create balance, solidarity, and interdependence.
  21. 21. Re-contexualize + Re-conceptualize 
 = New Education Paradigm If we re-contextualize teaching and learning out of the “jobs” purpose and into the “peace and sustainability” purpose,! ! We have to re-conceptualize teaching and learning foundations (philosophy, pedagogy, policy, learning theory) and practices (methods).
  22. 22. Divergent Thinking & Sustainability • Divergent thinking is key for us to become more sustainable, peaceful, and more prosperous. Divergent thinking offers ways towards health, wellness, and happiness. • Divergent thinking is “the ability to see lots of possible answers to the question, lots of possible ways interpreting a question… you think not just in linear or convergent ways.To see multiple answers, not one.” (Ken Robinson, 2008) • Since peace and sustainability require different ways of thinking about problems and solutions, divergent thinking allows more for contextualized learning because it recognizes unique sets of needs and various possibilities. Peace and sustainability are contextual and complex. 
 So must be our teaching and learning.
  23. 23. Sustainability Thinking To be prepared to create more peace and sustainability, students will become adult members of society who need to be able to: • Identify issues in specific communities (in context) that affect peace and sustainability • Understand ideologies and philosophies that are at the root of environmental, social, cultural, and economic issues • Communicate productively with people of all social, cultural, and political backgrounds • Inquire and experiment with possible solutions that move us towards sustainability Peace and sustainability are contextual and complex. 
 So must be our teaching and learning. At the core is the ability to do divergent thinking
  24. 24. Info Divergent Thought 
 (New Relationship) Critical Constructivism (Transformative) Communities Critical Questioning Teacher Student’s Brain Student’s PerformanceStudent’s Brain scaffold scaffoldPrior Thought Prior Thought Divergent Thought 
 (New Relationship) Divergent Thinking - 
 Explore many paths in authentic settings with questions that have no predetermined answer, but do require content knowledge. Divergent Thinking
  25. 25. Sustainable and Peaceable Thinking Divergent thinking that is contextualized in community.This provides students with opportunities to explore how content is thought about and practices in local and global community, especially with: ! 1. Anti-anthropocentric mindsets 2. Democratic discourse 3. Wellness 4. Balanced, responsible economies
  26. 26. References Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. Bowers, C. A. (2006). Revitalizing the commons: Cultural and educational sites of resistance and affirmation. New York, NY: Lexington Books. Doppelt, B. (2010). The power of sustainable thinking: How to create a positive future for the climate, the planet, your organization, and your life. New York, NY: Routledge. Gatto, J. T. (2006). The underground history of American education: A schoolteacher's intimate investigation in the the problem of modern schooling. New York, NY: Oxford. Gatto, J. T. (2002). Dumbing us down: The hidden curriculum of compulsory schooling. Gabriola Hickel, J. (September 23, 2015). Forget 'developing' poor countries, it's to 'de-develop' rich countries. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/sep/23/developing-poor-countries-de-develop- rich-countries-sdgs Layton, L. (2014). How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution. Washington Post. Retrieved from https:// www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-bill-gates-pulled-off-the-swift-common-core-revolution/2014/06/07/a830e32e- ec34-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html Nieto, S. (1994). Affirmation, solidarity, and critique: Moving beyond tolerance in multicultural education. Multicultural Education. Saez, E. (2015). Striking it richer: The evolution of the top incomes in the United States. Berkeley, CA. Retrieved from : http:// eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/saez-UStopincomes-2014.pdf Saez, E., & Zucman, G. (2014). Wealth inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from capitalized income tax data. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w20625. Worm, B., Barbier, E. B., Beaumont, N., Duffy, J. E., Folke, C., Halpern, B. S., . . . Watson, R. (2006). Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. Science, 314, 787-790.

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