Puttnam says students need to become ‘critical thinkers’

May 18th, 2023 7:10 AM

By Southern Star Team

The well-attended conference took place at Kinsale Community School last week.

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THE critical role of education in shaping a sustainable future was highlighted by Lord David Puttnam, when he addressed a Kinsale conference. 

The Skibbereen resident and film producer also emphasised the importance of schools in preparing students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, armed with the necessary skills to tackle the complex challenges facing the planet. 

And he acknowledged the challenges posed by Brexit, Covid, and the war in Ukraine and how these crises have shifted the attention away from sustainability when he addressed a Department of Education EU Conference on sustainability education in Kinsale Community School. 

The event brought together educationalists and representatives from 13 different countries, as part of the European Education Area Strategic Framework, to discuss the need for collaboration across educational systems within Europe to address issues relating to sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity. 

Keynote speakers were Lord Puttnam and Professor Paul Walsh, a renowned professor of international development studies and the director of the centre for sustainable development studies at University College Dublin. 

Professor Walsh shared his expertise on the significance of sustainability education in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. He emphasised the role of education in creating a more just, equitable, and sustainable world and stressed the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration in achieving this vision. 

The highlight of the event was a panel discussion with students from Kinsale Community School, who shared their experiences in the BT Young Scientist Exhibition, Young Environmentalist, and Young Social Innovators programmes. 

Fergal McCarthy, principal and vice president of the European Federation of Education Employers, said it was a ‘wonderful opportunity for our students to be given active agency in respect of a global concern which is very real and very urgent.’ He commended the students for keeping these issues at the top of the agenda.

During the conference, visitors had the opportunity to witness KCS’s commitment to sustainability through their various practices such as solar panels for energy generation, water harvesting for conservation, and the creation of an outdoor learning space where students could cultivate plants and food. 

They also had a chance to see the MyGug, a locally produced invention that produces biogas for the Home Economics room and fertiliser from food waste generated in the school canteen and staffroom.

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