Teaching threatens sustainable agriculture.

Ison, Raymond L. (1990). Teaching threatens sustainable agriculture. Gatekeeper Series (21). London: IIED.

URL: http://pubs.iied.org/6036IIED.html?k=Teaching thre...


Over recent years the term sustainability has begun to mean all things to all people. There are now, for example, more than 60 definitions of sustainable development (Winpenny, 1990). But a central flaw is that sustainability is too often seen as an outcome - as something that exists, such as a sustainable farming system - rather than a process of change.

Such a process should involve the building of sustainable relationships between people and people, and between people and their environment. And to do this requires the development of learning societies, in which learning becomes an active verb, not an adjective. The problem is that a pre-occupation with teaching has left us largely ignorant of learning.

Yet society puts little premium on learning. It does not necessarily result from teaching, which is, of course, pervasive in all institutions associated with agriculture. It is the normal mode in many formal curricula; it underpins the transfer of technology model of agricultural research and development; and is central to many organisational structures. To my mind the teaching paradigm so differs from learning paradigms that it constrains our attempts to engage in a sustainable agriculture. Indeed, teaching appears to threaten sustainable agriculture.

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