Restorative learning for fostering a decolonised curriculum attuned to sustainable teacher education
Social sustainability is paramount for peaceful and inclusive societies. It embraces all cultures and civilizations while promoting that these contribute to, and are crucial enablers of, sustainable development. One aspect hereof is knowledge: what is taught at universities and who decides. Students in South African universities remain frustrated with Eurocentric and Western dominated curriculum. This is made evident through the iconic 2015 (and ongoing) student protest movements that have laid bare the stark inequalities that persist in higher education and students outcries for socially relevant education that acknowledges the global South. This article listens to the voices of teacher education students to unlock their concerns and aspirations for a decolonised curriculum that strives towards sustainable education. Using qualitative interviews, students expressed their concerns with the political nature of higher education’s systems of power that are exclusionary, the need for the curriculum to be contextualized and the tendency for decolonisation to be perceived as a threat. Students voiced their aspirations for a decolonized curriculum by specifying the importance of decolonisation as a process and not a product through teaching approaches like storytelling. Students have made clear the need to challenge abyssal thinking and to challenge the root of hegemonic knowledge systems. We propose restorative learning as one possible avenue to pursue this. Restorative learning promotes sustainable education because it is attuned to an embeddedness in affiliation, it invigorates learning that is ecological and embraces radical relatedness that prizes how we live in relations with ourselves and others.
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