Home commentary Commentary: Sustainability starts in schools, but first we need a more holistic approach to education

Commentary: Sustainability starts in schools, but first we need a more holistic approach to education

Commentary: Sustainability starts in schools, but first we need a more holistic approach to education

Karen Yung

One such approach is regenerative education, which encourages students to develop fluency across multiple domains, skills, and traits — compared to traditional education, which often compartmentalises subjects.   

Such a model promotes experiential learning by enabling students to explore the natural world, understand complex systems, and actively participate in their communities.

In today’s state of play, for students to positively contribute to society, they must also understand the concepts of honesty, integrity, empathy, and fairness.

A greater educational emphasis on ethics encourages critical thinking about complex issues including sustainability and social justice, teaching learners to develop their own ethical frameworks and make informed, responsible choices.

We can thus nurture a generation of ethically conscious individuals who are dedicated to making a positive difference to both people and the planet.

In this aspect, schools still have a long way to go. We need to challenge students to be engaged in moral dilemmas in their day-to-day learning experiences.

By posing real-world environmental problems and getting students to assume full ownership of driving true change, we can foster a stronger sense of self-reflection and ethical checks in young people from an early age.


Often referred to as the ‘third teacher’, the physical environment plays a fundamental role in shaping a student’s learning experiences and development.

From sustainability-focused infrastructure to building maintenance, school environments provide opportunities to challenge students to apply their knowledge in different contexts.

Regenerative education can be most effectively explored in such interactive environments, such as Education in Motion’s The Greenhouse at Dulwich College (Singapore).

Dynamic learning spaces facilitate hands-on, collaborative learning and provide scenarios for practical, real-world applications. Technology enables innovative exploration of ecological concepts, while outdoor areas and nature-inspired environments extend the learning experience.

At The Greenhouse, for instance, kinetic floor tiles play a simple but critical role through gamification.

When students step on these tiles, the amount of kinetic energy they create is reflected on a media wall.

The immediate reflection of the weight their actions have not only reminds them of their contributions towards a sustainable future, but also encourages them to make a more meaningful impact.

Meanwhile, the teaching and cooking kitchen uses hydroponics to grow vegetables and herbs, and students are encouraged to experiment with creating plant-based meals.           

This integration allows educators to create learning environments that inspire curiosity and creativity, allowing students to become active participants in their learning journey.