Redefining the Roles of Educators for a Sustainable Future

“Technology is just a tool, in terms of getting the kids to work together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important”- Bill Gates

True to Bill Gates’ statement, the progress of technology has not diminished the vital role of educators in a student’s life. Educators play a pivotal role in shaping the mindset and values of future generations, and they can contribute significantly to building a more sustainable and equitable world. However, as the world changes, technology advances, and human thought processes evolve, it is necessary for educators to adapt to cater to the needs of future generations and shape their mindset and value systems. In general, we will analyze some of the key ways educators need to redefine themselves for a sustainable future.

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Fostering Critical Thinking: Rather than giving them lecture sessions, they must be given open-ended questions that require reasoning, justifications, and consideration of various perspectives. Educators should provide students with authentic tasks and scenarios to encourage their inquisitiveness, interest, and motivation.

Incorporating sustainability and promoting environmental literacy: Educators need to be advocates of environmental sustainability through various subjects and help students understand the need for sustainability. They should prioritize teaching students about environmental issues, sustainability, and climate change. This includes helping students understand the science behind these challenges, their impact on communities and ecosystems, and potential solutions. Moreover, this will help students think about the “whys” and “hows” of sustainability in their own disciplines.

Fostering empathy and global awareness: Teachers should be models for showing empathy towards all and help students understand the need for active listening. They should teach students about social justice, equity, and the interconnectedness of global issues, helping them develop a sense of global citizenship. Incorporating diverse perspectives into the curriculum makes them aware of global scenarios. Such qualities and thought processes are essential for working in a global working environment, and teachers are the best individuals to instill them for better employability.

Community engagement: Educators should have active involvement in society through their contributions and should connect with local communities and organizations to involve students in sustainability initiatives beyond the classroom. Field trips, guest speakers, and partnerships with local environmental groups can provide valuable learning opportunities.

There are many points to be incorporated into this sequence, but these four critical characteristic changes can form a strong foundation. By redefining their role in the above ways, educators can inspire and empower students to become informed, responsible, and active global citizens committed to building a more sustainable future for all.

-Manju Malathy is working as an Assistant Professor with 12 years of experience in the higher education sector. She is a passionate trainer. She is a Zone Trainer at Junior Chamber International India Zone 20 and a social activist.