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Dzintra Iliško

Teachers as Agents of Societal Change

This article discusses theoretical and practical aspects of transformative learning that can become a way for adults to critically evaluate and essentially comprehend themselves and their input in education, whose goal is to create action towards a sustainable society. The review of contemporary literature focuses on sustainability as a holistic concept linked to the idea of vision as significant in engendering alternative transformative power. The framework of a sustainable development has a potential to stimulate teachers' engagement with educational and societal processes with respect to the future development of a society within an ethical framework around values of democracy and active societal engagement. The aim of the research presented here is to explore the effect of critical transformative learning process for revitalizing adults' societal action brought about by engagement with in-service course for adults, aiming to gradually assist adults helping them to become creative producers of self and agents of transformations in education.

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Dzintra Iliško and Yelena Badyanova

Abstract

This article presents a case study of two schools that were identified as a result of UNESCO associated schools survey as cases of sustainable leadership and governance. The aim of the study is to present the two cases that were crystalized in the survey carried out at end of the United Nationsí Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). Prior to the in-depth study of two schools, the authors have carried out a survey of the heads and deputy heads of 26 UNSECO associated schools in Latvia on how schools are succeeding in improving educational outcomes, school development, cooperation with multiple stakeholders, and innovation. The authors have carried out semi structured interviews with the heads and deputy heads of two schools on the following questions: How has ESD updated and improved educational purposes and outcomes in your school? Does ESD improve test scores and/or achieve other desired outcomes? How does ESD help to improve and enrich school curriculum development in your school? How does ESD guide students to have the knowledge, skills and values to care for and solve the sustainable development issues that arise in your school? How does ESD help to strengthen the partnerships between schools and other stakeholders, including the surrounding community? How does ESD promote innovation in the teaching-learning conceptual framework?

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Dzintra Iliško, Astrīda Skrinda and Ilona Mičule

Abstract

Education is a future-facing activity. Therefore, universities need to engage students in building alternative and preferable future scenarios and reveal features of unsustainability, as well as open spaces for students to participate in discussions and negotiate new meanings. This paper reveals the future visions bachelor’s and master’s degree students from one of the regional universities in eastern Latvia have of education and focuses on a sustainability analysis (sustainable and unsustainable) of societal aspects and education. The authors conclude that thinking about preferred futures make students more aware of the positive changes that could be made and their personal responsibility to contribute to these changes. In this connection, the need to take a broad, integrated and holistic view of the future and its social and personal significance is of utmost importance.

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Berise Heasly, Dzintra Iliško and Ilga Salīte

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Dzintra Iliško, Svetlana Ignatjeva and Ilona Mičule

Teacher-Carried Research as a Tool for Teachers' Professional Growth

Inquiry among the schoolteachers' needs to be embedded, cultivated, sustained and nurtured as a tool for a better understanding of the processes in the education and for fostering teachers' ongoing professional growth. This study explores teachers' self-evaluation of their competency to conduct research and to incorporate it in the classroom. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed to seek answers about teachers' engagement with research and to explore the factors of resistance for carrying out research in the classroom setting. This study also dwells upon some mechanisms that lead teachers to carry out research. The focus group interviews which were conducted reflect on the factors that encourage teachers to become more involved in the research and point to the advantages they perceive as emanating from the research. The qualitative part of inquiry reflects teachers' narrative ways of construction and reconstruction of their personal and professional knowledge. The authors discuss the processes that foster teachers to move from the fragmentary use of research strategies to the ability to live in the inquiry, practice new behaviours in the classroom, unlearn the old ones, reflect in action and stay open to a range of new initiatives.

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Dzintra Iliško, Svetlana Ignatjeva and Ilona Mičule

Teachers as Researchers: Bringing Teachers' Voice to the Educational Landscape

There are a number of studies addressing the possible benefits of teachers being engaged in research, but there is little research that explores what teachers themselves think about their role as researchers and how they evaluate themselves as researchers. The aim of this study is to present a small scale investigation into teachersí self-perception of doing research in mainstream schools. By doing research, teachers express their voice; teachers' voice is an expression of their frames of reference. This is also a way of making their perspective public. In Latvia, teachers do not have an active voice in the educational theory and research. This research indicates that research initiated by teachers provides a framework for strengthening teachers' voice. The research data present an analysis of teachers' self-evaluation of their research competency, ability to organize their own research activity and that of their children. The study highlights the factors that determine teachers' willingness to engage in doing research, as well as their expertise to organize and motivate children's research. The data from group interviews and questionnaires show a genuine degree of agreement on a number of main issues, such as teachers' motivation in doing research, their expertise to motivate children in doing their research, as well as teachers' openness to creative and imaginative insights brought about by the primary school children in their research projects. This study highlights several significant correlations between teachers' ability to carry out their own research and their ability to engage children in a meaningful research.

Open access

Svetlana Guseva, Valērijs Dombrovskis and Dzintra Iliško

Preparing Children for School: The Perspective of Sustainability

This study analyses different aspects of upbringing and development concerned with preparing pre-school children for school. The focus is on justifying child development within the pre-school educational environment with elements of sustainability in order to better prepare students for school. Education in pre-school environments should be seen as a synergy of the affective and cognitive spheres of children. The authors refer primarily to the significant contribution provided in the sphere of pre-school education by different Russian psychologists and educators. The results of this study indicate that if the pre-school curriculum includes elements of sustainability, the process of preparing children for school is more effective and children may possibly be more successful at school.

Open access

Jeļena Badjanova and Dzintra Iliško

Abstract

The article points to new competencies required from basic school teachers, reinforced by the reform processes in the educational system in Latvia, the quality assurance of educational process, and modernisation and critical re-evaluation of educational materials and standards. The authors view sustainability as an integral part of reform processes in the country.

The aim of the study is to evaluate the perspective of basic education teachers from the diverse regions of Latvia on the use of holistic approach for shaping the content of basic education. The authors have analysed basic school teachers’ understanding of a holistic approach towards teaching and a learner. By means of a survey the authors have explored the features of teachers’ perception of a holistic approach to their teaching. The authors conclude that sustainability cannot be left to the initiative of individual teachers but should be implemented as a whole-school policy.

Open access

Dzintra Iliško, Eridiana Oļehnoviča, Inta Ostrovska, Velga Akmene and Ilga Salīte

Abstract

Sustainability is becoming an integral part of vocational schools since schools are called to respond to the environmental crises and unsustainability issues in the community as well as to an unsustainable economic development. Vocational schools have to play a significant role is re-orienting students’ frames of reference towards sustainability for a well-being of the Earth.

The aim of the article is to explore teachers’ views on their gains of integrating sustainability and the use of sustainability pedagogies as a result of participation in three years long international project. The article reflects on teachers’ efforts of reorienting the curriculum of a vocational school towards sustainability within the framework of the international Erasmus+ project “Methods for ESD – competencies and curricula” (MetESD), led by Vechta University.

Open access

Jeļena Fedosejeva, Aleksandrs Boče, Marija Romanova, Dzintra Iliško and Oksana Ivanova

Abstract

Sustainable education and education for sustainable development (ESD) have witnessed a deserved number of research studies in the recent years. The present article proposes a holistic research framework for the research on sustainable education and education for sustainable development in the 21st century. The article aims to choose a more holistic research perspective by avoiding a piecemeal approach in education research. Moreover, it proposes some strategically important ideas about the use of approaches and methods for sustaining the generational readiness for sustainable development. The paper proposes a general framework for pedagogy and practice for ESD research which is open, holistic, strategic, sustainable, and integrated. A broader perspective has been developed as the relation of the ecological–cultural–social environment aspects seen in a broader adaptive evolutionary sense as a condition necessary for the development of a human species and the development of these conditions in the evolutionary process. The choice of a broader perspective is proposed by relating it to an observational study on Generation Z that many educators, social scientists and the populations have already started recognising as one of the participants in the intergenerational process. The phenomenon of Generation Z is new; its features have not fully revealed in their apparent form, yet. Furthermore, the generation has not reached its maturity yet, but the development of this phenomenon is inextricably related to the issue of generational commitment, which is also related to the evolutionary development. The observational study has been carried out by involving participants from VECC Daugavpils Vocational School. The evaluation of the participants’ real experience in a wider and broader framework has been used to draw strategic conclusions, which will help keep focus on the need to sustain generational readiness for sustainable development in the harmonisation of the choice of pedagogical approaches and methods.