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Things You MUST Think About: Being Green

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This is the final gloss on the 11 THINGS INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS MUST BE THINKING ABOUT featured in an earlier post. (I recap the entire list below the body of this post.)

#11. Being Green

Most schools have gotten this message and are beginning to live it. But in a world whose greatest single challenge is arguably environmental change, schools—especially if we are to really train our graduates to understand the dimensions of this challenge—will have to consider making environmental sustainability and what we used to call “eco-consciousness” the touchstone of every aspect of their work.

There’s not much point in belaboring this too-obvious issue–even in our economically straitened times schools that “sat out” the first wave of Green design are now finding that environmentally responsible operation ways pays off financially and pedagogically as well as ethically. Seldom has there been a more “right” thing to do that aligned so well with the exigencies of the times with regard to the current educational emphasis on design, global interconnectedness, and STEM subjects.

Schools that need to jumpstart their thinking in this area can easily find all kinds of guidance relating to Green operation, Green building, and environmentally focused curricula and assessments. The National Association of Independent Schools “Sustainable Schools” pages are a treasure trove—just this single page offers nearly two dozen administrative resources on environmental sustainability. If you don’t know where to start, try the NAIS Principles of Good Practice for Environmental Sustainability.

So, who is thinking about being Green at your school?

* * * * * * * *

So ends this series. I want to emphasize here that the 11 Things Your School MUST Be Thinking About are just that: things you need to be have on your institutional agenda. Every school will have its own take on these subjects and its own response. Some schools will be comfortable rejecting a few of the 11 out of hand, while others have no doubt already incorporated many into top priorities.

What I can say with some confidence is that these 11 Things represent a wave of change that has been sweeping in upon our schools for a while. The gift of independence, the freedom from annual mandated bubble tests and the freedom to be ourselves, obligates us, I believe, to engage in many kinds of forward thinking to make our schools more effective, and more wonderful, places for kids to learn. In a changing world we can be, and I think we should be, the kinds of think tanks or test beds—incubators, anyhow—both of innovation when we can make it happen and of continuous improvement when we find things that work.

In his 1970 study of the changes being experienced at a New England boarding school, A World of Our Own, author Peter S. Prescott repeatedly quotes independent school leaders of the day as speaking of freedom independent schools to innovate, experiment, and thus lead the American conversation about education. I’m not sure that we can make that claim as confidently as we did in those days, but we still have the freedom, the resources, and the energy to be part of this conversation. I believe, above all, that we still have the ideas to make an impact.

The 11 Things:

  1. Design Thinking. What-ing? DONE HERE
  2. Data-informed decision-making DONE HERE
  3. Collaborative learning and (related issue) project design DONE HERE
  4. Smart assessment of student learning DONE HERE
  5. Social media—for advancement DONE HERE
  6. Social media—in the classroom DONE HERE
  7. New directions for your library DONE HERE
  8. Online learning DONE HERE
  9. Strategic professional development learning DONE HERE
  10. Shorter horizons for strategic thinking DONE HERE
  11. Being Green DONE
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