Sustainability and ecology as part of the curriculum

The Comenius Lyceum is developing a continuous curriculum in the field of sustainability and ecology. At the so-called ‘econasium’, students do course-interdisciplinary work and are consciously working on the development of competencies.

Why an econasium?

With the econasium, the Comenius Lyceum wants to raise student interest in sustainability and the future of their living environment. On top of this, they want to challenge students more and by developing their competencies they want to better prepare them for further education and the job market.

Framework of the first three years at school

The econasium is an addition to the regular education all students follow in the first three years. The programme consists of course-interdisciplinary projects whereby different professional fields and professional groups meet. Projects take place outside of class. An example of such a project is a visit to the climate top in Marrakech.

Freedom of choice

Teacher Eelko Kruse: “Within the econasium, the students have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing their specialisations and finding their own learning path. One group of students, for instance, is interested in biology and wants to set up their own aquaponics system (the growing of plants on water, whereby the fish and plants function in holistic harmony). Another group is more interested in the social aspects and choses a project whereby they must organise a congress on sustainability.”

Reflection

Every project contains several moments of reflection. This is done by using rubrics. “For each activity, the students have to study the rubrics and when they complete an activity the students must indicate at which level they feel they belong. The teachers provide the students with feedback and together they examine this reflection and determine the student’s level.

The final years of secondary school

At the end of the third year, students can decide whether or not they want to follow the econasium course O3 (3.5 hours a week on average). This course is on top of the existing curriculum. In the first years of secondary school, the students work on nine competencies (independence, working hard, source research, creativity, project-oriented working, knowledge of health, social skills, critical thinking, and future-oriented thinking). They need these competencies to work on the projects in the final years of secondary school.

Student controlled

“The course 03 is compiled in such a way that the student is in full control of their entire curriculum and learning process”, explains teacher Eelko. “It consists of two starting modules where students learn about project-oriented working, making stakeholder analyses and learning about the scrum method. Students then choose a sustainability problem from a catalogue compiled by the school. The students can also choose to develop their own projects. All projects include external parties such as companies and universities. The course is concluded with an assessment and a profile paper. Each project is executed by a project group under the guidance of a coach.”

What do the teachers and students think of it?

Teacher Eelko: “More and more teachers recognise the importance of naming and developing competencies and want to encourage this.” According to Eelko, the students who realise how extraordinary the econasium is, add a positive vibe to the school. “Their call for a more challenging school life is finally being heard.” Activities such as the trip to the climate top and the involvement of external organisations make students curious. “They start realising that as they are more engaged, they have more opportunities.”

Ambition

“Our ambition is to create a continuous curriculum that starts in primary school and is continued at the econasium in secondary school, all the way to further education in the form of sustainability studies.”

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