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The FSF Bookshelf

Understanding Sustainability in Early Childhood Education

In Bookshelf Early Years Practice


A detailed look at how "sustainability" has evolved and how it looks in settings today.


The book starts with a comprehensive overview of how we go to where we are today. With regards to our attitudes to sustainability and how that feeds into the early years. It provides a useful context for those interested in the wider picture.

The book contains many fascinating case studies on settings which have adopted an outlook on sustainability. I found the one on Hazelwood Integrated Primary and Nursery school particularly enlightening. It recounts how organised groups of children within the setting (the Eco-Schools council and the school council) spoke passionately about “tricky issues” and “acting as role models for others”. It exemplifies the importance of giving children responsibility and having them share that responsibility with others. And how a child’s voice carries effectively to the wider masses – their parents and wider families.

The book ends with the legacy of Maria Montessori and Rudolph Steiner, along with relevant case studies. These chapters serve as a wonderful tool to not only see their links with being sustainable but also as an in-depth look at their specific practices.

The chapter on the Montesorri curriculum serves as a great reminder how nature, and a child’s respect for it, can be placed at the heart of learning and further exemplifies just how important the early years are for instilling a love of nature.

The Chapter on the Steiner Waldorf teachings will cover (among many other things) how a love and respect of nature ties into the learning, it’s seasonal themed curriculum, and the integral role of empathy. I found the section on “The humanising process” particularly interesting. It’s about raising questions of what it is to be human and how education should be more than mere numbers on a chart. How even the simplest of interactions between teacher and teaching assistant can help reinforce the pivotal socialising and humanising lessons that children go through.

Overall, this is a great book for those who are interested in how “teaching sustainability” can look in the early years. It’s full of insightful research and history on the topic as well as practical case studies of successful settings making a difference.

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