Our society needs urgent attention

I live in Australia and am grateful to have my parents, aged 89 and 96, living at home. The thought of them going into aged care fills me with fear. Our most vulnerable and senior members of society are treated with less respect than our pets.

“Elderly people deserve the highest respect. This includes quality healthcare, to allow for the best quality of life for the people who have helped build the society we currently enjoy.” Dr. Paloma Gómez-Campelo, a psychologist and researcher, Assistant Director of the Hospital La Paz Institute for Health Research.

A society is measured by how it cares for its elderly citizens.

Our society needs urgent attention.

I’ve learnt a lot about Australia in the last 48 hours.

I‘ve realised our country accommodates two distinct populations. There’s the urban community clustered around the big cities on the eastern seaboard and there’s the rural community scattered far and wide around the country. The second group of people is trying their darndest to look after our land. We are facing less of an offering each decade-arable land for food, a climate that is conducive to growing the crops and sustaining the animals that we like to eat and a population willing and able to be the custodians of the land for the rest of us. When making a living for your family to pay your bills and put food on your table, saving the planet is not your focus.

We ignored opportunities to sustainably address the needs of everyone, especially those who feed the city dwellers. Remember the ‘feed a man fish story’? Governments reactively give money to those who suffer the firestorms, droughts and flooding rains, when what they needed was a proactive partnership to find new action plans and sustainable ways to meet the needs of all in Australia. We have been governed by greed and consumerism and then ignored the consequences.  We found people in other lands willing to work for and produce that, which we would not. We smuggly pay the lowest price for goods. We continue to gouge the earth looking for an export to exchange for money or those cheap goods, while governments allow corporate bodies to avoid paying their share for organising this. Our entitlement to whatever we can acquire has claimed our balance with the land.

What a surprise (should you be unaware what is happening) or not (if you’ve worked it out) we have been dealt with the result of the Federal poll on Saturday. No one wants to have less money to spend. Concurrently, there’s a growing group of people who don’t know where their next dollar will come from. Around the big cities we have chosen to ignore the effects of the climate that’s changed because of our own footprint. We might be hanging on to an eroding coastline but we’ve got money to plaster it up. Join the dots Australians. We do not exist in a consumer void. Someone else suffers but in the longer term we all suffer.

It’s not even a case of the HAVES and the HAVE NOTS. The reality is we’re all losers.

I heard it said this was the climate election. I guess that’s true.

It’s up to vertical schools

The designs for Victoria’s first-ever ‘vertical school’ in South Melbourne, have been released, providing a sneak peek into the revolutionary learning spaces that will accommodate over 525 students.  The most exciting facet of the vertical schools model is the community reach (pardon the pun)  
“The school will also offer the community an array of public spaces to be enjoyed by students and locals alike, remaining open after-hours to encourage community interaction and providing spaces that are both community-based and also shared with the school.”

Whether the school spreads up or out, the factors that influence positive outcomes are the leadership, teachers, pedagogy and the ability to listen to the needs of the community.

Vertical schoolsvertical schools 2

More…Designing the school of the future —  Going up – the future is vertical

The voice of persons with disability

PHNOM PENH – “Welcome to our Global Knowledge programme on the Voice of Persons with Disabilities broadcasting from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap province (FM92.25 MHz) and Preah Sihanouk province (FM88.75 MHz).”

Cambodia radio for persons with disability

From inside a crammed studio on the ground of a Buddhist pagoda, the announcement by Ms. Phoum Leakhena, an anchor, made debut for the first time a radio programme by and for people with disabilities. Its mission is to provide an airwave channel for them to make their voices heard and to promote their rights and opportunities as equal members in the Cambodian society.Radio for Persons with Disability

Disability in Cambodia

  • The number of people with disabilities is around 700,000 or 5 percent of the country’s population
  • People with disability face many barriers including physical, social, economic and attitudinal.
  • They lack access to appropriate, quality and affordable healthcare, rehabilitation, education and disability services.

Radio by and for persons with disabilities

Also One man’s story

Find more on global learning    http://bethinkglobal.com.au



Needed: globally competent learners

Globally competent learnersChildren-in-a-circle NEED globally competent teachers

“By now you have likely heard the clarion call of global education advocates. The current educational systems are not capable of addressing the new realities of the 21st century. We need to prepare students to live and work in an increasingly interdependent world marked by interactions with diverse cultures, rapid change, and complex global challenges for which easy answers do not exist.”   Yumi Kuwana & Dana Teppert

How do we achieve this?  ANSWER: Global educators

7 factors that influence globally minded teachers   http://wp.me/p6hjhQ-cG

Wanting our children to achieve global citizenship –  do teachers have the skills to  teach it?http://wp.me/p6hjhQ-bY

1st entry-The Village and the Killing Fields

Peak Sneng is one of 5 villages in a region that supports some 400 families, around 2000 people. Situated some 30 kms outside of Siem Reap, our group travelled there by bike. Peak Sneng lies on the land that 30 years ago, was one of the killing fields.

By way of portraying the significance of my visit to the village of Peak Sneng let me first take you to the Siem Reap Memorial to the Killing Fields. You’ll get a bit of Cambodia’s history as well.

Wat Thmey is located about 3 km from the centre of Siem Reap along the exit road from Angkor. If you go past the back of the Jayavaraman VII hospital established by Dr Beat Richner, (more of that later) heading out of town, it’s on the left. Most tuk tuk drivers and tour guides know it.

It is a small active Pagoda, with a not-very-inspiring statue of Buddha. The hall it’s in is quite nicely decorated and you could spend a good couple of minutes there looking around. Outside there are the homes for the monks, and a teaching hall. So far so ordinary. There’s nothing here to make you stay more than a few minutes.

However at the side of the Pagoda, is a small, rather gruesome building. Wat Thmey is home to Siem Reap’s Killing Fields’ memorial.

Temple at Siem Reap Killing Fields Memorial

Since the 1400s Cambodia has been a troubled country. First the Thais sacked Angkor in 1432. Then in 1863, at the request of the King in Exile, the French took over. In the 1960s and 70s, Cambodia was subject to violent protests, and civil war. Finally in 1975, the Khmer Rouge took power. They renamed the country Democratic Kampuchea and started clearing people from towns. In a matter of hours, the entire population of Phnom Penh was ordered to leave. Many people died on the road. Everywhere people were put to work. People were killed for the slightest reason – for being too clever, (people who wore glasses were killed) through starvation, illness and the brutality that followed. Most were buried in mass graves, or simply thrown into hastily dug trenches. It is estimated that 2 million people were killed – about a third of the population at the time. 

The regime was largely ousted in 1979 but Cambodia was in a state of limbo and run by the Vietnamese until 1993 when the King was restored and power returned to an elected government. Cambodia, as a modern country, is only 22 years old. There are not many old people around.

In Siem Reap, the memorial is a small building at Wat Thmey with glass windows housing the skulls and bones of some of those who perished.

Skulls and Bones

It’s part of the past that many people would like to forget. But, like war memorials in Western Countries, it serves as a warning to future generations.


Disruptive? To whom?

So it’s only a matter of time before Uber is accepted in Australia.  The disruption, I suspect, is to the taxi industry who now needs to overhaul its structure and compose new ways of conducting business.  With a smart phone in hand, members of the  public can use technology to serve their needs.  Uber X

Advancing Global Citizenship Education

UNESCO Asia Society partnership

UNESCO/Asian Society “We must educate a generation of global citizens — versed in human rights, culturally literate, skilled for intercultural dialogue, compassionate and committed to building a better world for all.

Global Perspectives: A Framework for Global Education in Australia 2008.
“Enabling young people to participate in shaping a better shared future for the world. It emphasises the unity and interdependence of human society, cultural diversity, social justice and human rights, building peace and actions for a sustainable future …. global citizens who can contribute to a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

The Global Education Project was delivered for 15 years, assisting tens of thousands of Australian teachers to embed global perspectives in their curricula. Funding to the Project ceased in 2014. In 2015, UNESCO and the Asia Society deemed Global Citizenship education a framework of priority importance.



A sustainable future starts right now

We have an international agreement on climate change. We are on an urgent time frame to educate for action.  A sustainable future starts right now and MUST become part of our educational programs.

A greenhouse nightmare

Since the late 1960’s, sustainability, which initially had an environmental focus, expanded to include economy and later social and cultural considerations.

In 1987 the approach to conservation brought together environmental conservation and development and so came the term ‘sustainable development’. This represented the first formal recognition that “development should meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, suggesting development, progress and growth had to take account of their environmental impacts.

So wider ethical issues such as human rights, in support of values, justice and fairness are integral to education for sustainable development.  Intercultural understanding strengthens respect for equality.  Peace and resolving conflict foster the values of empathy and cooperation.  A rights based education encompasses the concept of education for sustainable development and reinforces the awareness that we share a common destiny with others. (OHCHR 2006).

Sustainability has become a vast social, political, economic and educational concern. The UN has devoted a decade to Education for Sustainability. UNESCO has the online multimedia program Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future.  http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/index.html

How can sustainability enhance the learning areas in curricula?

The Australian Curriculum considers sustainability important enough to be delivered across all learning areas.

A curriculum that has sustainable futures at its core will be a dynamic and value enriched program of learning. The ways in which we can meet our current needs without diminishing the environment or reducing the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs is what a sustainable future is about.

So as a learner and facilitator, I brainstormed all the perspectives of a global curriculum centred around the concepts of sustainability – cultural sustainability, economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and social sustainability ….. so here goes ….. needs and wants, human rights, politics, the Sustainable Development Goals, belief systems, value systems,  gender equity, poverty reduction, global cooperation, interconnection, human well being, peace, resolving conflict, partnerships, trade, water, forests, natural hazards and disasters, biodiversity, food security, endangered species, energy, desertification, effects of climate and its change, trading fairly, education,  identity, child Rights, agriculture, ethical consumerism, migration, immigration, refugees, population, intercultural understanding, cultural diversity, connections to the past, indigenous culture, global health …… phwew!!  And that’s just for starters.

Write down these learning areas- Civics and Citizenship, Geography, Science, History, Technologies, Maths, The Arts, English, Health and Phys Ed, Languages and  Economics.

Now try and fit any one of the concepts above into just one learning area.  Can’t choose? That’s because sustainability and global learning traverse all areas of the curriculum. A rich curriculum has interconnected learning.

The best way to work out where you can work with these concepts in your curriculum is to do a concept map.

Take a look at your existing curriculum. Could you enhance it and open the eyes of your learners a little wider by including a concept around sustainability?  Are you willing to prepare our learners to be the active global citizens who will act for a better future for all on this planet? It’s a no-brainer.


Cartoon by Nicholson from “The Australian” newspaper: www.nicholsoncartoons.com.au – See more at: http://nicholsoncartoons.com.au/reproduce-a-cartoon#sthash.eni7rgBN.dpuf


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