Draft for discussion and development:

Translating Green Principles into Education Policy and Practice

Policy Discussion Document
Prepared by
Charles Posa McFadden for the
Policy Working Group Green Party/Parti Vert
New Brunswick 1 October 2016

Acknowledgement and disclaimer: This draft was developed through discussion and with input from Raissa Marks and David Kersey, my colleagues on the Education sub-group of the Parti Vert NB Green Party Policy Working Group. The result is intended, however, only as an orientation to NB Green Party education policy development and the educational practices of Green Party members and supporters. As such, it is envisioned as a continuously evolving document. While credit belongs to the PWG Education Team and others who have given input, responsibility for shortcomings in its content remains with its principal author, to whom comments and suggestions for its further development should be sent: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Preamble: The translation into education policy of Green Principles, as found in the Constitution of the Green Party of New Brunswick, would be transformational for New Brunswick. By comparison with the current curricula and practices of education, the implementation of these policies would qualitatively raise the public's capacity and inclination towards informed participation in democratic social decision-making and action, helping to move New Brunswick in the direction of a more just, resilient and sustainable community, able to participate fully in the major changes needed globally to address the present environmental and social crisis.

Each of the six sections below is titled by the name of the Green principle and includes the elaboration of that principle into components, each presented below in bold italics. For each component principle, some of the implications that principle might have for education policy and practice are identified.

Non-Violence

We declare our commitment to strive for a culture of peace and cooperation between individuals, within communities and in relations between governments and citizens

This translates into some of the central aims of a Green education program for New Brunswick (bulleted) and includes a variety of ways of achieving these aims:

  • Engaging in reconciliation through education with the Indigenous, Acadian, Afro-Canadian, LGBTQ, female, working class and other victims of human rights violations by acknowledging the injustices committed against them and promoting recognition of the responsibility of the people and Government of New Brunswick for appropriate forms of restitution, consistent with the aim of full equality in a green social democratic New Brunswick;
  • Addressing cultural differences through:
    • Learning to communicate in each of English and French, or, in the case of Indigenous students, in their own language and at least one of these other two languages, with emphasis on participation in cooperative activity guided by speakers of the second language;
    • Becoming acquainted with the history and culture of New Brunswick's Indigenous peoples from Indigenous teachers, classmates and friends;
    • Participating in exchange visits as part of the curriculum at every level of education; and
    • Supporting the right of First Nations to control over their own curricula and instruction, including Indigenous language education, either within their own schools or within schools and school programs they share with others.
  • Developing both the habits and skills of cooperation through:
    • Cooperative learning in which each group member does part of the necessary research and shares the results with the other members of the group for the purpose of addressing a relevant and engaging social issue or technological problem (problem-based learning); and
    • Apprenticeship learning in the form of cooperative teacher-student relationships, in which each is both teacher and learner brought together by common goals and shared engagement in achieving those goals, but with the greater responsibility of the former for organizing the learning experience, including modelling the skills and habits to be learned and identifying and gathering suitable tools and learning resources;
  • Developing civic knowledge and skills through
    • Identifying civic issues that require resolution;
    • Researching government to find out which levels and branches of government and which government officials are responsible for addressing the issue or issues of student concern, meeting with some of these officials and sharing the results with fellow students;
    • Joining with fellow students to initiate student action where necessary to acquaint the public with concerns not currently being adequately addressed; and
    • Making all of the above routine parts of education at each level, thereby developing the habit, knowledge and skills needed for an effective democracy;
  • Engaging in peace studies, including in relation to both macro levels of violence (such as war) and micro levels of the same (such as schoolyard bullying or domestic violence)
    • Studying some of the causes of violence;
    • Taking action to reduce some of the causes of violence;
    • Learning and applying methods of conflict resolution.

We commit to reducing the vulnerability of women and children to violence by building caring and protective communities

Among other provisions, a centrepiece of this commitment includes:

  • Developing and caring for children outside the home by providing free-of-charge, professionally staffed and well-furnished and equipped pre-school, before-school and after-school developmental, recreational and cultural centres for all children.

As part of the transformation of society, this could be done at community centres that make accessible to all children the space, material and human resources now available only privately to families who can afford them.

As part of school curriculum, this commitment also includes:

  • Educating both boys and girls in an age-appropriate manner about such issues as feminism, "rape culture", and violence against women

We seek a justice system centred on rehabilitation and reconciliation rather than retribution and revenge

A justice system centred on rehabilitation and reconciliation has as its corollary an education system dedicated to

  • Developing the full creative potential of every person;
  • Educating every person for useful, constructive roles in the community;
  • Developing both the habits and skills of cooperation; and
  • Rehabilitating those whose behaviour has strayed outside the boundaries set by the justice system.

Such a justice system also implies an education system that

  • Ordinarily treats its students as equal members of the community, not subjects of detention and confinement; and
  • Treats only those persons found by the justice system to be a danger to the community with confinement or close supervision and only for the purposes of education, mental health care, behavioural counselling, rehabilitation, reconciliation and reintegration with the community.

We believe that local, national and global security should rest on cooperation, just economic and social structures and relations, ecological security and vigorous protection of human rights

Education for non-violence, therefore, also means:

  • Making each of the above Green principles guidelines for curriculum.

Self-Determination and Citizenship

Education for self-determination and citizenship is central to Green education policy.

Understanding that it takes a village to raise a child, we assert the collective responsibility for ensuring that every child is raised in a healthy nurturing environment where they are afforded an equal opportunity to develop physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually to reach their full potential

Among other things, this principle implies, in addition to the policies and practices outlined above:

  • A substantial increase in the number of qualified educators engaged in teaching children and a freeing up of the time of parents and guardians for the upbringing of their children. Consistent with the expanding needs and possibilities of a caring, knowledge-based society, the total number of adults engaged outside the home in the education and upbringing of children, whether as volunteers or paid professionals, should approach one half the number of children, a not unreasonable social goal in the face of increasing mechanization and robotization of work.
  • Collaboration and cooperation between teachers and parents in the planning, organization and conduct of the education and upbringing of each child under their joint responsibility, respecting the professional knowledge of the teachers and their primary responsibility for education of the child and the enduring, primary responsibility of the parents and guardians for their child's care and upbringing;
  • Enlistment and engagement of community volunteers in the education of children, including sharing of their experience, specialized talents and knowledge, a practice facilitated by green policies on family guaranteed income and a corresponding reduction in working hours;
  • Enlistment and engagement of local businesses, tertiary level education and research institutions, non-governmental organizations and associations and other community bodies in making their knowledge and resources available for the education of children; and
  • Transition from the current hierarchical system of control over education to a bottom-up system of decision-making in which the teachers, parents and elected local community representatives constitute the base education councils guiding the education of children, including the practice of joint agreement between these three constituencies on operative policy, respecting in the process the teacher's professional knowledge (the scientific base of education), the parents intimate knowledge and enduring responsibility for the children, and the community's shared responsibility for the welfare of all members of the community.

Each person must be granted both the right and opportunity to reach their full potential as autonomous individuals, empowered to assert control over their own circumstances and to assume the responsibility of active citizenship within supportive communities

In addition to the foregoing, this principle implies, among other things, free public access to all the resources needed for life-long, self-directed education, including:

  • Internet services;
  • The libraries, courses, tutorial services and other educational services of every publicly funded tertiary level educational institution in the province, including the right to be examined upon request for any degree, diploma or certificate offered by these institutions with or without prior attendance and completion of the associated courses;
  • Specialized distance education services dedicated to guide and assist those pursuing self-directed, independent study and research; and
  • For all forms of learning not fully addressed by the above, Community Learning Centres in every community in New Brunswick, usually associated with local schools in order to encourage sharing of facilities and resources, including space, teachers, instruments and equipment.

To counter the cynicism and detachment of individuals from the political life of our province, people must be seen as citizens in communities contributing to the common good, not as self-interested consumers in a Consumer Society

The large and increasing direct role of for-profit corporations in public education teaches the opposite. In addition to its curricular implications, this principle implies the following changes, among others, in current methods of management, support and conduct of public education:

  • Removal of for-profit commercial enterprises from schools, colleges and universities (such as private for-profit vendors of food, private for-profit banks, private for-profit commercial vendors of other products);
  • Refusal to accept advertising from for-profit commercial enterprises (such as in school, college, university and student publications, on athletic uniforms, and at cultural and sports events);
  • Exclusion of funding of education by for-profit commercial enterprises and their representatives;
  • Removal from educational buildings and facilities of names publicly associated with for-profit commercial enterprises; and
  • Replacement of the lost funding for education that would result from these and similar measures by increasing the provincial corporate tax rate.

Social Justice and Equality

We are all diminished by the presence of poverty amidst great wealth. A caring society ensures that all people have equal access to the necessities of life and to the amenities which enhance our collective human experience – health, education, quality housing, meaningful livelihoods, and cultural enrichment. Recognizing that individual wealth is socially created, the greatest burden for ensuring a just society must be borne by those with the greatest means.

We commit to reducing the gap between rich and poor by identifying and addressing the root causes of economic and social injustice at home and globally.

These principles mean a sea change in New Brunswick's social priorities, including education and cultural enrichment. The encouragement given by neoliberal governments to increasing the existing disparity in wealth and income creates financial barriers to education and cultural enrichment even where fewer such barriers existed before. Economic and all other societally created barriers to access and availability of educational services of the highest quality need to be removed.

The challenge today is the need to reduce the burden on nature of our productive activity by making this activity more energy and resource efficient. In the face of an existential environmental crisis, we need to do everything possible to encourage the acquisition of the highest levels of knowledge, imagination and creativity and their earliest application to the preservation of nature and the reduction in the energy and material costs of productive activity. Education and the ability to apply it is the central task of our public educational system. We can support this task by:

  • Making educational resources and services freely and conveniently accessible to all, including information media and cultural enrichment as well as teachers, learning materials and schools.

The material and energy costs of an educational system designed to meet the present challenges before the people of New Brunswick can be met by introducing, among other measures:

  • Greater progressivity in provincial taxation of income;
  • Increased corporate taxes; and
  • Increased provincial property tax rates assessed to New Brunswick's largest and most profitable private for-profit corporations.

The full diversity of New Brunswick society – ethnic, linguistic, sexual orientation, cultural, generational – must be supported and minorities protected.

In relation to education, this means equal access to education across the full diversity of New Brunswick's population. This commitment implies, among other things:

  • Ending so-called intelligence testing and other forms of sorting and streaming students, including terminating machine-marked tests, and end-of-term and end-of-unit written tests, with replacement of all such methods by teacher evaluation of student performance and the products of student work;
  • Allocation of the human and material resources needed for full and equal inclusion of all special needs children in public education (pre-school through secondary school), including, in particular, the employment of specialists to address specialized needs, such as those of children with limits in mobility, hearing and sight and differences in talents, interests and abilities;
  • Curriculum and instruction that equally addresses the needs of all minorities, including all those identified by this principle;
  • Curricular content that educates all students about the diversity of the community and engages all students in collaborative activity, including actions of solidarity to address any violations of the human rights of minorities, in the first place, any violation of the human rights of fellow students; and
  • When a scarcity of specialists exists in relation to the geographical dispersion of students with a special need, such as may be case, for example, in relation to students with severe problems of sight requiring the learning and use of braille, and severe problems of hearing, requiring the learning and use of sign language for communication, specialized schools be established in each region of the province, minimizing the distance of the schools from the families of the students, while ensuring equal levels of educational opportunity and attainment for all categories of special need.

Women have the right to full and equal participation in all aspects of society.

In relation to education, this principle means:

  • Full and equal access by women to all forms and levels of education, assured in a green social democratic New Brunswick by removing financial and all other barriers to education, including those barriers specifically applicable to women, such as those connected with their rights to choose whether and when to have children.

In relation to the opportunity for women to participate equally with men in all aspects of society outside the home, this principle also means:

  • Increasing the human resources within the educational system to fully match the reduced time available to parents and guardians for the upbringing of their children arising from the exercise by both women and men of their right to participate fully and equally in all aspects of society; and
  • Mandatory reduction in average working hours without a corresponding reduction in pay.

The net additional human resources (labour time) needed for education and upbringing of children outside the home should be determined by research on the cumulative increase in labour time participation by parents over the past half century and the increase in the level and kind of knowledge and skills needed for participation in meeting the present challenges.

We recognize and respect the treaty rights of First Nations and seek a trusting and respectful relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.

In addition to the actions recommended above in connection with the Green principle of non-violence, this additional principle implies:

  • Specific instruction in schools in the treaty rights of First Nations and opportunities for aboriginal and non-aboriginal students to learn from each other and collaborate in learning and other school-related activities.

Participatory Democracy

The cornerstone of any democracy is a media independent of vested and political interests, reflecting the full diversity of New Brunswick society. Without this our province's full democratic potential cannot be realized.

"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."
– A.J. Liebling, cited on www.wikepedia.org in their article on freedom of the press.

Media play an essential role in education. No vested interest in New Brunswick is more politically, economically and culturally influential than the single family that owns most of the media in the province. The need for "a media independent of vested and political interests" means, among other things:

  • A media operated as not-for-profit public utilities, autonomous from managerial control by governing political parties and government officials, and free from advertising revenue and therefore the influence of the advertisers;

Sources of funding for such a provincial and local media in New Brunswick might include:

  • Individual subscribers; and
  • Matching funds from municipal and provincial governments.

Organization and management of a media independent of vested and political interests might include:

  • Worker cooperatives (the journalists, artists, production, and other staff responsible for the media);
  • Community media cooperatives (representatives or volunteers from the community reached by the media); or preferably
  • A combination of these two.

New Brunswickers must have meaningful opportunities to participate in the decisions that affect their lives, created through responsive and decentralized democratic processes, structures and institutions.

Application of this principle to education would mean turning upside-down the current hierarchical structure of decision-making authority over education in New Brunswick. It would mean:

  • Limiting the role of the provincial legislature to
    • setting the broad goals for education in New Brunswick;
    • funding education of each kind on an equal per student basis;
    • providing this funding on the basis of student enrolment directly to local community education councils in the case of local community schools; and to the advisory boards of each college and university;
  • Giving each school, college, and university the right and responsibility of self-management in reaching the broad goals set by the legislature, including for curriculum and instruction;
  • Giving the provincial collective of teachers for each type and level of education in the province the responsibility and resources for
    • determining the qualifications for teacher licenses; and,
    • in association with the faculties of education of New Brunswick's colleges and universities, planning and conducting pre-service and continuing professional development of teachers;
  • Requiring that each school with adult students be governed by councils or advisory boards that equally represent the faculty, students and community in which they operate, in each case on the basis of consensus between these three groups;
  • Requiring that schools for students below the age of majority by governed by councils that equally represent the faculty, parents, and the community on the basis of consensus between these three groups and in consultation with the children;
  • Giving the collective of teachers for each educational institution the responsibility for recommending to its governing council the curriculum of the school and making the recommendations for hiring of teachers and the assignment of their responsibilities;
  • For the above purposes, a "school" is understood as a working collective of educators and not necessarily a specific physical location.

Translated into practice, this principle could be supported by education that

  • Makes student participation in social movements and political parties of their choice a part of their civics and social science education;
  • Gives students below the age of majority apprenticeship roles in school self-management;
  • Encourages the practice by students at all levels of bottom-up participatory democracy in student government;
  • And supports student conduct of model parliaments and model United Nations.

Within civics education, there should also be attention to workplace democracy, including the issue of

  • The right to participate in workplace decisions with implications for the community, the environment, and people's health and in decisions about what to work on, for whom and how.

Enthusiastic participation in elections is contingent on an electoral system in which every vote counts and results in a Legislature that reflects the diversity of political viewpoints of all New Brunswick citizens.

In addition to some of the related actions above, this principle could also be supported by:

  • Education in the various types of electoral systems that exist world-wide, including: o Student discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each type; and o Consideration by the students of the role of political parties in decision-making and conditions in which their absence might be preferable.

Local Self-Reliance

New Brunswick communities must be in charge of their own destiny to the greatest extent possible. Resilient, sustainable communities require economies that meet local needs and are locally controlled, minimizing dependency on external forces.

The content of education offered by pre-school, elementary, middle and secondary schools should:

  • Reflect and draw upon the resources of the local community, its economic, cultural and other social activity and natural environment;
  • Include abundant opportunities for students to become acquainted with and participate in all aspects of the life of the local community;
  • In the spirit of recognition that it takes a community to raise a child, all members of the local community and all social, economic and cultural organizations within it should be enlisted as volunteers in the task of education and upbringing of children.

Self-reliance and resilience is built on public assets placed in the hands of and dedicated to the service of local communities.

Public facilities for education, culture, recreation, health care and self-government are central to the life of every community. Among these, the facilities of elementary, middle and high schools play a central community role. Their facilities should:

  • Be the centers of the communal life of those living within their student catchment areas;
  • Be owned and operated by the people living within these areas; and

Expand to include or be managed in association with nearby recreational, cultural, health care and governmental meeting facilities, adequate to the needs of the community served.

Local self-reliance is integral to the shift from a Consumer Society to a Conserver Society which respects the ecological and social limits of human production.

Above all else, the curriculum of the schools should focus on the transition to a Conserver Society, including:

  • Teaching the broad principles of living within our ecological means, as detailed below in the specifications for this principle;
  • Acquainting students with the related natural and social sciences through local examples and activities;
  • Developing and extending student imagination to include the ability to envision a society without the consumer orientation that prevails today, understand and identify with others, and recognize our need of the diversity of living things in our environment and the need to protect that diversity;
  • Engaging students in identifying local environmental problems and participating in or, where necessary, initiating local conservation efforts; and
  • Opening up to students the wealth of local opportunities for engagement in cultural, recreational, beautification, conservation and caring activities.

Living within Our Ecological Means

Along with the Green principles of non-violence, self-determination and citizenship, social justice and equality, participatory democracy, and local self-reliance, the following principles are those a Green government would establish as among the broad curricular goals for education in New Brunswick to be addressed by the curriculum and instructional practices of every school, college and university:

Humanity and all other species are an integral part of the Earth's biosphere. The Earth's ability to provide resources and energy to meet human demands and to absorb our waste and pollution is limited. Our primary responsibility is to learn and to live within the ecological and resource limits of the planet, providing for the needs of all people, while not threatening the existence of other species and future generations.

We seek a shift from today's Consumer Society based on perpetual growth to a Conserver Society based on ecological and social sustainability.

Because our knowledge is limited, we must take the path of precaution in order that life is not jeopardized and ecosystems are protected.

New Brunswickers have a right to healthy air, safe water and a wholesome food supply, a right to know when these are threatened or have been compromised, and a right to participate in decisions that have the potential to do harm to people and ecosystems.

Afterword

The emphasis here has been on the translation of Green Party principles into policy implications for public educational institutions. But education as a societal subsystem is more than a set of institutions created and governed by legislated policies. It is the process by which a society culturally develops itself. As such, it should not be narrowly conceived as the exclusive domain of educational institutions. Education in practice necessarily includes all the means by which a culture is shared and changed. Everyone is a teacher, although not necessarily educated professionally in the sciences of education. Every intellectual communication is an educational act. Each form of intellectual communication – whether by visual demonstration, written or oral expression, or by other means – is a means of education. Parental guidance, counselling, medical advice, scientific research, journalism, the arts, the development and promotion of religious and other belief systems – these activities are all means of education. The task of education is therefore shared by all these human intellectual activities.

Some definitions

Education. Education, in effect, concerns one side of our societal relationships, the intellectual side. The other side is our physical (metabolic) relationship to the rest of nature, the sum of the productive forces (tools) we utilize and the social relationships we enter into for the purpose of making our way within nature. The latter are not necessarily elective.

Training. Training, as distinct from intellectual activity, is not part of education by this definition. Beating, whipping, incarcerating – these are all forms of training, and usually relatively ineffective in humans, given our capacity to intellectually undo the effects of training. It is only when individuals elect to apply science (an intellectual activity) to improving their own physical performance that training – and only in this special case - becomes education.

Learning. Learning is a cognitive process that takes place in the brain of the individual learner. The content of learning, on the other hand, is a social creation, including scientific knowledge, cultural values and the methods of acquiring this knowledge and shaping these values.

Welcome!

This website was launched September 1, 2010 in support of a green social democratic alternative to neoliberal capitalist policy and practice. The primary result is a work by Charles and Karen McFadden of seven chapters, grouped under the title, Towards a Green Social Democratic Alternative to Capitalism available here in pdf and html formats.

Below under the heading What’s New can be found the most recent materials posted on this website, including opinion pieces, book reviews, articles and selections from the 2017 edition of the main work.  For the interest of new and returning visitors, new materials will be included quarterly.

What's New

NEW & REVISED

Authors' Preface

1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

6.0 The socialism we need against the "socialism" of the 20th century

6.8 Additional concerns about 20th century variants of "socialism"

6.9 The people united!

7.1 Policy alternatives and political movements to advance them

OPINION

Charles and Karen McFadden, Is revolutionary transformation on the agenda

Charles and Karen McFaddenHumanity on the Brink

Charles and Karen McFaddenMovements of Resistance to Movements for System Change

Charles McFaddenTranslating Green Principles into Education Policy and Practice

Charles and Karen McFadden, The Role of Revolutionaries in the Labor Movement

REVIEWS

Charles McFadden, The People United for a More Just Sustainable Future

Karen and Charles McFaddenCan emergent early 21st century neo-fascism be defeated without coming to grips with late 20th century restructuring of capitalism into a global system

Karen and Charles McFaddenA Dominant Capitalism or a Sustainable Environment? Why we can't have both.

US CORNER

William I. RobinsonThe Crisis of Global Capitalism and Trump's March to War

William I. RobinsonTrumpism, 21st Century Fascism, and the Dictatorship of the Transnational Capitalist Class

CANADA CORNER

George HewisonWINNIPEG 1919 & THE COLD WAR

George HewisonArt Manuel - "Unsettling Canada

George HewisonThe NDP and LEAP

RECOMMENDED

Albert Einstein, David Swanson, Jill Stein, Chris Hedges, William I. Robinson, and others Selected articles for Winter 2018

FEATURED WORK

ECONOMICS

1.7 The dynamics of capitalism as a system and the limits of single issue reforms

2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

3.1 The challenge of a moribund economic system

3.7 Public banking: A cornerstone of a green social democracy

4.7 Economics and culture

6.5 Using the non-market economy as an opportunity to begin moving beyond capitalism

HISTORY

1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

2.0 Theoretical Perspective: Defining Green Social Democracy

2.5. Socialism and green social democracy in historical materialist theory

4.3 Culture in historical perspective

5.1 Contrasting a green social democratic world with the currently prevailing, but challenged neo-liberal one

6.2 Socialism and capitalism as coexisting social systems

LABOR

2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

5.7 Defeating neo-liberal capitalism: The role of social movements

7.3 Justice: Creating a just society, based on the right of all to a dignified, secure existence

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) applies to all work posted on this website except that which appears with authors whose last name is other than McFadden, in which case standard copyright should be assumed to apply.