Think Piece: Conceptions of Quality and ‘Learning as Connection’- Teaching for Relevance
This think piece captures some of the thinking that emerged in and through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Environmental Education Programme research programme. This research programme emerged over a five-year period (2008–2012) and involved ten southern African teacher education institutions from eight countries (see ‘Acknowledgements’). The research programme sought to understand what contributions environment and sustainability education could make to debates on educational quality and relevance. Issues of educational quality are high on the national agendas of governments in southern Africa, as it is now well known that providing access to schooling is not a sufficient condition for achieving educational quality. Educational quality is intimately linked to the processes of teaching and learning, but the concept of educational quality is not unproblematic in and of itself. It is, as Noel Gough (2005) noted many years ago, an ‘order word’ that shapes the way people think and practise. Our enquiries during this research programme involved a number of case studies (that were reported on in the Southern African Journal of Environmental Education (SAJEE) in 2008, and are again reported on in this edition of the SAJEE), but the programme also involved theoretical engagement with the concept of educational quality and relevance.
This think piece helps to make some of this thinking and theoretical deliberation visible. The author of this think piece was also the leader of the regional research programme and was tasked with synthesising the theoretical deliberations that emerged from the research design which were found to be useful for guiding interpretations and deliberation on more detailed case studies undertaken at country level.
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