School: 11th lyceum Peristeriou, Athens, Greece
Organiser: Glykeria Gkouvatsou
Age of students: 16-17
Implementation time: March 2021
Although research on sustainability and climate change usually revolve around fuels, industry waste, plastic usage, deforestation it seems that clothes have also come up “on stage”. This is due to the fact that the environmental impact of the fashion industry gets more and more crucial. The EU is committed to taking action to limit global warming in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement. Thus a new Action Plan promotes sustainable use of resources in sectors with high environmental impact, such as textiles. This is because fashion industry’s carbon impact has proved to be bigger than airline industry’s.
Our main aim of this collaborative project has been to provide students with the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) linking school with everyday life issues; to raise awareness of the impact their daily choices, as apparel consumers, have on the environment and hopefully to change attitudes. It is examined from an environmental and socio-economic perspective, also covering english language learning, ethics and STEM issues in an interdisciplinary approach.
As an EFL teacher, based on a national textbook unit about clothes, I made an effort to urge my upper high school students towards some further research. In collaboration with teachers of Chemistry, Informatics and Biology we set a goal: track the life cycle of a piece of cloth in 5 stages and its impact on the environment from many aspects. Then it was our duty to engage the whole school community in an environmentally friendly initiation.
Due to the pandemic restrictions the activities were carried out while applying distant teaching/learning, online, both synchronously and asynchronously. For our online meetings we used the Webex application offered by the authorities to state schools. We used google drive shared docs/ppts/xls, either for presentation or collaboration purposes. We also used e class and wiki for curation purposes and several online free tools for production. The use of Arduino is left to be done onsite now that distant teaching/learning is over for upper high schools.
At the age of 16-17 students may consider they know all about environmental issues. So the introductory questionnaire they fill in gives the first reason to start doubting and questioning. Also they seem to be rather uninterested in the text presented in the EFL textbook. A short youtube video presented while screen sharing was enough to trigger their curiosity. The use of the KWL (Know -Want to know- Learned) chart is a great way to highlight their gaps and track their progress as well. What they enjoy most is collaborating in groups in the break-out rooms provided by the application.
The pedagogical value
My students managed to connect STEM issues and knowledge acquired with the real world challenges and their everyday habits. We managed to raise their curiosity about STEM professions and their importance in our wellbeing, though they did not have time to search this field extensive. We integrated STEM in a creative approach, interdisciplinary examining a theme from various angles. Besides the Project-Based Learning applied encouraged students’ collaboration; working in break out rooms during online synchronous sessions was significantly contributed to self-efficacy.
Our students need to feel they design their own learning path; they get easily bored with material ready made to memorise or topics that seem irrelevant to their everyday life or to the world they now live. The use of hands-on activities are always more attractive than theory; visual elements especially videos seem to be more effective for this generation than texts. What is more, in a world more consuming than ever before and when a piece of apparel might cost less than a take away meal it is necessary for our students to know about the harmful sequences of their consuming habits. Finally we should seriously consider the fact that our students are really fond of being the inspiration themselves!
All the visuals belong to the Author – Attribute CC-BY