This unit of work engages young people in a project that is rich in scope but also grounded in a real world, authentic context that will be tangible to Scottish school children. Set in a fictional town in West Lothian, the project exposes learners to issues of sustainable development. This context will be pertinent to many living in towns that have suffered from industrial decline and are now seeking new identities as they expand with new housing and associated infrastructure. Based loosely on the new Heartlands development adjacent to Whitburn in West Lothian, which is one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe; young people will learn about how the provision of power, housing and the treatment of waste can be a sustainable process.
One of the key learning theories employed in this unit is the use of an authentic learning context that has tangible links to life beyond school, particularly with regards to the world of work and global citizenship. Authenticity in education is the provision of learning experiences that relate to the lives of pupils and experiences that they are likely to encounter later in adult life (Hennessy and Murphy, 1999). It is argued by Snape & Foz-Turnbull (2013) that authentic projects which have ‘real-world’ contexts expose learners to a wider range of experiences that are transferable to the situations that they are likely to encounter in the workplace, therefore fostering a sense of responsibility for life beyond the classroom.
This unit enables young people to learn across the curriculum in an interdisciplinary project that combines the specialisms of each curricular area in a real world context that emulates the work of subject specialists in the world of work. This is concurrent with the aims of the Scottish Government who define education for sustainable development as teaching young people: “how best we can participate in building stronger communities and developing a sustainable economy; how best we can reduce our impact on the environment”. (The Scottish Government, 2010).
Providing an engaging means to explore issues of sustainability that includes the development of engineering skills is paramount to the Scottish Government who estimate that over the next 10-15 years 95,000 new jobs will be created in the energy sector (The Scottish Government, 2014). The Scottish Government also have a vision of becoming a world leading low carbon economy and need a new generation of scientists and engineers to help create sustainable communities powered by renewable energy. This unit provides learners with an opportunity to think critically about sustainable development and work in a realistic interdisciplinary nature. The activities contained within the units tasks not only seek to foster the skills and knowledge that learners need to work creatively in this field, but also aim to ignite an interest in sustainability and contributing to Scotland’s future low carbon economy.
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