Contradictory Practices and Geographical Imaginaries in the Rolling Out of Education for Sustainability in Auckland New Zealand Secondary Schools

  • Richard Le Heron
  • Nick Lewis
  • Amy Harris
Part of the Schooling for Sustainable Development book series (SSDE, volume 3)


The chapter responds to the introduction of Education for Sustainability (EfS) in New Zealand (NZ) secondary schools. This introduction has taken place in a complex context of entrenched geographical imaginaries, teacher practice, the practicalities of school organisation, and national curriculum change. The chapter is based on a 2009 survey of geography teachers that reveals that EfS has yet to be grasped with much enthusiasm by Auckland schools. This confirms for us that political projects of knowledge production must be negotiated into places. To grapple with this challenge we treat sustainability in both conceptual terms as a political project and in empirical terms as a project that can be investigated from its inception. We ask what work it is expected to perform, how these expectations are changing even as it is being rolled out, and how it is being implemented in schools. We ask these questions in the contexts of the geographical imaginaries being produced in schools and the work of the geography teachers who organise, teach and advocate the sustainability curriculum. The study thus reveals the start-up conditions and the agency at work in delivering the EfS intervention. We offer a very different contribution to the international sustainability literature by addressing the gap between a sustainability politics where claims are made about what should be done and the actual institutionalised practices of education.


Field Trip Political Project Achievement Standard Class Room Curriculum Review 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We acknowledge the assistance of the geography teachers in Auckland schools to whom we talked in the preparation of this chapter; June Logie, Mary Flaws, and the Auckland Geography Teachers’ Association for discussions about geography in Auckland schools over many years; and the Science Faculty of The University of Auckland for funding the data collection through a Summer Scholarship for Amy Harris.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Le Heron
    • 1
  • Nick Lewis
    • 1
  • Amy Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EnvironmentUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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