BIOGRAPHY

Male, , birthday 5th August
Joined January 2020

I'm co-owner / director of an English Language and activity summer school organisation called English Country Schools. We teach English to children aged 7 - 17 but also try to deepen their connection with nature through things like adventure camps, campfires(!) and project-based learning in the outdoors. I love mountain walking, having completed the GR20 Corsica trail, sections of the GR10 and GR11 Pyrenees trail and - last year - the Walkers Haute Route through the Alps from Mont Blanc to The Matterhorn. I'm a new grandparent, which really puts a focus on the future, something I find quite scary under our current climate situation. I'm trying to stay composed about the future, trying to resist dystopian nightmares and searching for a more positive way forward.

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Sustainable Development Education

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How can we best educate children and teenagers for a sustainable future? What knowledge and skills do they need to develop? What is the best way to go about this?

I'll be the first to admit I have not made the most of the wonderful Campfire Convention. Joining my first zoom call with members yesterday made me realise what I've been missing out on. A lot. So that is about to change as I find my way around the site and try to connect with others in our shared goals.

Around 30 years ago my wife and I were working in Greece and wanted to return to the UK to set up a farm school. Our idea was that children and teenagers would come to the UK to learn English and have fun working on the farm and connecting to nature. That proved impractical and we ended up with an organisation called English Country Schools that has welcomed thousands of young people over the years to learn English during the summer on countryside campuses in the UK. The end result is something of a compromise compared to our original dream, but we have always held to the idea of helping young people to connect with nature, either through our teaching methods (often outdoors, often nature-related); or directly through some of the activities we organise like bushcraft and adventure camps.

Recently though we have come up against not just Covid and Brexit but also the realisation that our business has a sustainability issue in its reliance on air travel. The result is a new initiative to explore and encourage environmental responsibility in UK English Language Teaching - see https://eltfootprint.uk  We are making good progress in persuading more and more organisations like ours to put sustainablilty at the heart of their operations. 

As a member of Campfire I'd like to explore the idea of sustainability in education a bit further. I have questions like:

How can we best educate children and teenagers for a sustainable future?
What knowledge and skills do they need to develop?
What is the best way to go about this?
What are people already doing?
What resources exist?
How can we move mainstream education onto a more sustainable footing?
How can children and teenagers best be educated in unconventional settings? What knowledge and skills do they need to learn over and above what they already learn by being part of their communities?

I have to admit I'm a bit unsure as to the best way to go about developing this discussion in Campfire so any advice / connections / offers of collaboration, etc, would be very welcome.

Best wishes
Chris Etchells

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Christopher Brown

Came across an american site School of Lost Borders talks about rites of passage and eco living also remembering an article about the Evangelical school in Berlin and how they had won plaudits as a beacon of education

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