August 7, 2018, 11:49 am
Dubai’s new Arbor School is teaching sustainable values at its very core, according to Dr. Sa’ad Al-Omari, CEO of Praxis Education, which builds and operates educational settings in the Gulf (GCC) region .
Sustainability is very much on the agenda of individuals, organisations and governments around the world, particularly in the form of initiatives aiming at renewable energy, the preservation of biodiversity and the reduction of pollution and carbon emissions. Environmentalism, however, has always meant much more than that. At its heart, environmentalism is about replacing an essentially anthropocentric world-view (in which humanity of central importance) with an ecocentric one (in which humans are recognised as being part of a complex network of natural systems). This shift in thinking has radical implications to all aspects of knowledge. It represents a fundamental epistemological revolution that has changed almost every aspect of human cultural activity. When we stop thinking of ourselves as the main purpose of existence and begin to place ourselves within the broader perspective of a greater network of systems, we find that all our traditional fields of knowledge are affected. Science, philosophy, art, engineering, economics, ethics and especially education are transformed to incorporate new values of compassion and holistic thinking and a whole new way of conceiving the relative importance of the human and non-human world. The move towards ecocentrism is, above all, about the recognition of the inter-connectedness and fragility of the global network of systems that make life on earth possible. It reflects a philosophy of inclusion, not only of non-human systems, but also of human systems and individuals in all their staggering diversity.
David Orr, the well-known environmentalist, and educational thinker, said that “It is not education that will save us, but education of a certain kind.” It is to provide this new kind of education that we have established the Arbor School, which comprises a curriculum focused on environmental mindfulness and inclusion, a truly ecological school, which we believe is unique in the world and not only Dubai.
Dubai is a city of global recognition. People come here from many different national and cultural backgrounds to contribute to the creation of a vibrant and modern society with a high standard of living and services on offer. Education is one of the mainstays of this growth, and the Government has dedicated considerable resources to ensuring that education in Dubai competes favourably with the best in the world. Dubai’s children, whatever their national and cultural backgrounds, are truly global citizens who will carry the attitudes, knowledge and experience they acquire here to almost every corner of the globe. We are confident that the knowledge and values they acquire during their time at Arbor will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives, wherever they may be. Dubai is striving to leave an indelible mark on the future and we are honoured to be a part of its mission.
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