This post is a bit of a scatter between scenarios, but I know you’ll get what I’m saying and you will probably agree.
Because my school is environmentally themed, we work with an Education for Sustainability (EfS) consultant.
When we first began our work together aligning our curriculum to EfS in 2010, I really wasn’t sure what this whole thing was going to look like. While I thought the purpose and the content were definitely important and necessary, how were we going to fit these ideas, this language and all this content into daily teaching practices.
We learned a lot of theory and models of thinking. Ok interesting but with the little time we have as teachers to plan and grade and teach and plan and plan and plan, I really just wanted to get to the nitty-gritty of this EfS and plug it into my plans. But there was a reason why we didn’t just jump right in – we wouldn’t have been putting this into practice in a way that would be sustainable for our current practices or our mental models. We needed the time and knowledge for our own mental models to shift to this way of thinking before we can teach it and sustain it in our practices.
This couple of years’ work with the consultant has been productive. Now I deeply understand the purpose of the approach to learning and teaching EfS. Not that I didn’t understand it before, or didn’t think about sustainability before… but now that I can look back on the progression of the work that we’ve done and now knowing some theory is internalized, it is the fabric of how we should be thinking, speaking, teaching, living, etc.
The beauty of our conversations and time together is that our consultant has a way of making sustainability connections to almost anything that we talk about: food, communities, garbage, animals, wedding plans, life lessons, work, cooking. And as she speaks, I listen intently. I am her kool-aid drinker.
So funnily enough, as I was running in Prospect Park for my Rock n’ Roll Brooklyn 10k yesterday morning, I found myself thinking about our conversations from our meeting last week. I noticed I could ask myself the title question at any moment, whatever I am doing, in practically any circumstance:
Can I sustain this pace the entire race?
Will that banana sustain my energy for an hour?
How much longer can I sustain my current career?
How do long-distance runners sustain their bodies when they are worked so hard?
Would I be able to sustain my mental state if I ran a whole marathon?
Will water sustain my need for liquid or should I grab a Gatorade?
While my internal questions in the midst of my run seem silly now, they were important at the time and may contribute to the failure or success of my next running adventure!
But seriously, sustainable thinking and living practices require a lot of attention initially, but become habit over time. A positive habit. A habit that could sustain your happiness, your longevity, your life.