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Conclusion

It is interesting to return to the question of including issues specific to the social in a sustainability education curriculum. Typically, sustainability education focuses on environmental rather than exclusively social issues and the relationship between the social and environmental is the primary concern. In writing this chapter I was motivated by being a witness to extreme violence against children across the world and asked how I might respond in an active, local way. This current project of mapping children's everyday language practices and drawing on them to enhance learning success across the curriculum seemed a relevant place to start. The children live in complex multicultural communities and much of their everyday learning must be about how to get on with many different others. The mapping approach in this project was fundamentally spatial. Children map the places of their diverse language practices - home, church, shops, playground, classroom, sports and so on - and the diverse ways they use language in these places. For children whose parents speak another language they negotiate many sites of language translation, including within their families where multiple languages are spoken. It is clear from this language mapping with children that language for them is dynamic, social, interactive and political; it is about who gets to name the world and how that naming will be taken up. In many senses the children, their families and communities already negotiate relationships across and between different cultures and language practices, but the school curriculum does not draw on the knowledge that derives from these everyday practices.

In being led by the children in this chapter, however, I have ended up back where the environment and the social are again entangled through the Cumberland Plains project in its significance to the engagement of this very alienated child. For this child, planting and naming the diverse plants of the remnant Cumberland Plains opens up the possibility of thinking language and schooling differently. This thinking differently could involve a broader understanding of language that might be more connected to the ground beneath our feet, to the words that may have evolved from this land and to forms of language and knowing that resonate with the idea of a sustainable future.

 
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