Part 3: Development for Primary Students

As stated above I believe that humanities disconnection from Nature is a major obstacle to tackling the issues of Sustainability. To frame it this way gives students a stronger wondering for inquiry. I have been in classes where students are following inquiry questions on sustainable energy and all they are doing is getting confused by Greenwash when they try googling the issue. I feel that it is a teacher’s responsibility to scaffold work in a way that makes it meaningful and accessible for students. (Churchill et al 2018:596) Every adult of the planet has experienced the distractions and confusion that comes with research on the Internet, and yet all too often this is how students are directed to research when working on inquiry projects.

This exploration could easily be adapted into a unit of work across a term that required students to look at the issue of Disconnection with Nature. An introduction to the idea, a nature trip and then an investigation of artworks culminating in students creating their own pieces. If it involved an immersive experience in which the students spent time in nature, following a storythread pedagogy it would be a very powerful catalyst for empowered education about Sustainability. To explore the natural world in this way allows students to develop a deeper understanding and affinity for the issues which results in them becoming more connected to Nature. “Just being in a natural place is not enough. The most successful storythread experiences depend on classroom teachers’… weaving together all the elements of storythread into a mediated learning experience.” (Tooth & Renshaw 2012:128)

There are elements of the above documented inquiry process that would be applicable for all year levels, primarily within the Geography Curriculum that at Foundation to 2 states students should; Identify how people are connected to different places (VCGGC059). At levels 3 and 4 this is expanded to; Identify and explain the interconnections within places and between places (VCGGC073) and at level 5 and 6; Describe and explain interconnections within places and between places, and the effects of these interconnections (VCGGC087). This breadth across the Geography curriculum indicates that the connections and interconnections are seen as a critical piece of understanding about our world, its environment and our connection to these.

Further to this the concept of connection also features strongly in the Cross Curriculum Priority of Sustainability which states that one of its core Organising Ideas is “Systems- explores the interdependent and dynamic nature of systems that support all life on Earth and our collective wellbeing; The biosphere is a dynamic system providing conditions that sustain life on Earth. All life forms, including human life, are connected through ecosystems on which they depend for their wellbeing and survival.Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.” (VCAA)

However, the artworks I have chosen alongside my own artistic explorations would most aptly suit a more complex understanding of these systems and the relevance to students lives at the 5 and 6 level. At this level in the Visual Arts Curriculum students “Students extend their understanding of safe visual arts practices and choose to use sustainable materials, techniques and technologies.” (VCAA)

The use of technology in my own work is not only an influence of the inspirational piece I found but conscious choice to use technology as an artistic tool. Young people and screen culture is a major issue in schools and contributes to feelings of dis-connection. By explicit teaching of technology as a genuine artistic medium I hope to educate students about their own screen use and the choices they have within that to be consumers or creators. “Students deserve educational opportunities to develop their media literacy skills to prepare them for futures in which digital technologies will be at the centre of communication and creative practice.” (Dezuanni 2017:141) Digital art sits within both the Visual Art and Media Art areas of the curriculum and could be said to enhance students divergent thinking, providing them with greater flexibility to find different solutions. (Dinham 2020:46)


ACARA (2022) Australian Curriculum F-10, Cross Curriculum Priorities, Sustainability, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), Accessed 20 April 2022

Churchill, R, Godhino, S, Johnson, NF, Keddie, A, Letts, W, Lowe, K, Mackay, J, McGill, M, Moss, J, Nagel, MC, Shaw, K, Rogers, J (2018) (eds.), Teaching: making a difference, 4th edn, Wiley, Milton, Qld

Dezuanni, M (2017) ‘Media Arts’, in Sinclair, C, Jeanneret, N, O’Toole, J and Hunter, MA (eds) Education in the Arts, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne ­ 

Dinham, J (2020), Delivering Authentic Arts Education, Cengage, Melbourne. 

Gilbert, R, Tudball, L, & Brett, P (2020), Teaching Humanities and Social Sciences, Cengage, Melbourne. 

Green C, Molloy O, Duggan J, (2022) An Empirical Study of the Impact of Systems Thinking and Simulation on Sustainability Education. Sustainability 2022, 14, 394.

Hunter, MA author, Aprill A, Emery S &; Hill, A (2018) Education, arts and sustainability : emerging practice for a changing world, SpringerBriefs in Education, Springer Singapore, Accessed 19 April 2022

Leimbach T, Kent J, Walker J & Allen L (2020) Staying sane in the face of climate change: A toolkit of emerging ideas to support emotional resilience, mental health and action [report], University of Technology Sydney, Australia

Macy J (29 April 2021) What is the Anthropocene [video], Anthropocene Transition Network Inc, YouTube, Accessed 19 April 2022

Tooth R, and Renshaw P, (2012). Storythread pedagogy for environmental education. Changing schools: Alternative ways to make a world of difference. Edited by Terry Wrigley, Pat Thomson, and Bob Lingard. London, England, U.K.: Routedge.113-127.

VCAA (2022) Victorian Curriculum, The Art, Visual Arts, Level 5 and 6, Achievement Standards, Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), Accesses 22 April 2022