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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Recontextualising education for sustainable development in pedagogic practice in Vietnam: linking bernsteinian and constructivist perspectives

Nguyen, Thao Phuong; Leder, Stephanie; Schruefer, Gabriele


This paper investigates how ESD is recontextualised in pedagogic practice in geography teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam, with the case study in two schools. Empirical materials for this study include video recordings and observations of 15 geography lessons conducted between 2016 and 2019. The lessons were selected based on the areas where the teachers thought they would be promoting ESD. Bernstein's Sociological Theory of Education (1973-1996) was used as the theoretical frame for analysing the pedagogic practice. Our findings show that (1) an explicit hierarchy frames the interaction between teachers and students; (2) the selection of knowledge and skills is governed by strong classification and framing of curricula and textbooks; (3) teachers follow the sequence of knowledge in the textbooks; (4) the teachers' evaluation of the students is based on examining how well students reproduce the textbook contents. The observed pedagogic practice demonstrates a performance-based model of pedagogy, in contrast to a constructivist approach, which the tenets of ESD call for. We conclude that the implementation of the global principles of ESD could help educators/teachers face the challenges of applying a more transformative, constructivist pedagogic practice in Vietnam.


Education for Sustainable Development (ESD); Bernstein; pedagogic practice; geography teaching; Vietnam

Published in

Environmental Education Research
2021, volume: 27, number: 3, pages: 313-337

Authors' information

Nguyen, Thao Phuong
Hanoi National University of Education
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Schruefer, Gabriele
University of Bayreuth

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

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