Sustainability can pop up in the most surprising places. The latest example I have found of this is a chapter in a textbook that my wife is using to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) this semester. I knew that more and more universities had been offering courses on different aspects of sustainability; but I had no idea that other unrelated courses would include it in their textbooks as well.
This course did. There is actually a whole chapter called “What is sustainable living?”. The chapter opens with 15 ideas of how to incorporate sustainability into one’s daily life. Some of the ideas were joining a community garden, using the car less, reading and playing more games, planning your errands to make a loop instead of crossing travel paths, and reducing, reusing, and recycling, etc. This section became the reading comprehension part of the chapter.
The remainder of the chapter featured a common pattern of reinforcement exercises supporting the key concepts—in this case, having to do with sustainability. The questions forced the students to think beyond the initial readings. Not only was this a good way to practice vocabulary, it simultaneously taught the students more about how to incorporate sustainability into their everyday lives. After this was a section featuring some pie charts and bar graphs, which provided different means to understand sustainability.
My favorite part of the chapter was the last section, which described NASA’s Sustainability Base. This is a new NASA building built with the intention of essentially leaving zero environmental footprint. Since NASA has been designing optimal environments in space for decades (according to the reading in the textbook), why not design an environment (building) that is the same for the earth? Good question…and I hope that the chapter led the students in my wife’s class to think more about how they can include more aspects of sustainability into their daily routines.
The book is Reading for Today (5th Edition), Lorraine C. Smith and Nancy Nici Mare, 2016, National Geographic/Cengage Learning