The Center for Ecoliteracy has identified and supported a number of schools and projects that embody processes and practices for effective education for sustainability.
Schools are systems, and they are communities. They are themselves important nodes in the web of institutions that constitutes society. Whatever happens in schools will have profound effects on the rest of society.
The most effective schools are often communities that model the traits of sustainable societies:
- They know that children's ability to learn, and what they learn, are greatly affected by the vibrancy and health of the culture of the school and the quality of the relationships within it
- They function as "apprenticeship communities" in which leadership is shared and members of the community see themselves and others as both teachers and learners
- They often observe that "the curriculum is anywhere that learning occurs" (whether or not it is intended or directed by educators)
Effective schools frequently incorporate one or several of the following practices:
- They connect children with the natural world through programs and projects outside the classroom, such as school gardens, habitat restoration, and communicating their experience in nature through painting and poetry
- They practice place-based education that teaches students about the people, history, culture, and natural features of their local community and region
- They practice environmental project-based learning, involving students in local projects that are meaningful and make real contributions to their communities
- They integrate in-class learning with hands-on experiences and with all of the activities (including, e.g., lunch) of the school
- They address whole children, recognizing that children's ability to learn is affected by their health and well-being, and that these are in turn affected by such factors as nutrition, exercise, and the health of the natural environment
- They employ the best current understandings of how brains and minds develop and how children learn. They attend to children in all their dimensions, including cognitive, emotional, and aesthetic.