As an educator one must find an approach that opens the way to education as learning actions that are better situated and more inclusive. This means that teaching and learning of real matters of concern can enable learners and their educators to engage local and indigenous knowledge and the sustainability and social justice challenges of the modern era in positive ways. UNESCO has published their new social contract for re-imagining our futures together (UNESCO,2021). In this publication UNESCO outlines education in terms of a social contract – an implicit agreement among members of a society to cooperate for shared benefit. It continues to emphasise that a social contract is more than a transaction as it reflects norms, commitments and principles that are formally legislated as well as culturally embedded. The starting point is a shared vision of the public purposes of education to engage in sustainable matters of concerns (UNESCO, 2021).
In the past century, public education was essentially aimed at supporting national citizenship and development efforts through the form of compulsory schooling for children and youth. However, as grave risks to the future of humanity and our planet arise, UNESCO urges educators to reinvent education to help address these real-life challenges. The objective of the new social contract for education is to unite us around collective endeavours and provide the knowledge and innovation needed to shape sustainable and peaceful futures for all anchored in social, economic, and environmental justice. The new UNESCO social contract builds on the broad principles that underpin human rights – inclusion and equity, cooperation, and solidarity, as well as collective responsibility and interconnectedness (UNESCO, 2021).
”Two vital processes underpin education:
- the acquisition of knowledge as part of the common heritage of humanity,
- the collective creation of new knowledge and new possible futures.”
In order for us to address Human Rights, Social Justice and Climate Action in our teaching practices we need to consider how we taught in the past, how we are teaching now and what changes are needed for us to reimagine our futures. Here are some points to consider when reimagining teaching human rights, social justice and climate action.
- Pedagogy needs to be expanded around an ethic of cooperation and solidarity.
- Pedagogy must foster empathy and compassion in work together to transform ourselves and our world.
- Learning develops through co-engaged relationships between teachers, students, and available knowledge.
- Learning extends student relationships and an ethic of care and shared responsibility within a common world.
- Pedagogy activates transformative learning encounters around realities that exist and can be built together.