In this article, “sustainable education” is reconceptualized, drawing on the insight that education runs on the energy of students, teachers and all other stakeholders involved. Sustainable education systems are defined as systems in which students’ natural energy for learning is renewed (rather than depleted) and no talent gets wasted. Students’ energy for learning is geared towards the acquisition of crucial competences for the 21st century (including the competence to make their own lives work and to make life on the planet work), which they can deploy and further develop on a long-term, sustainable basis. For this to happen, education systems need to be built upon strong, up-to-date curricula and to design classroom activity based on cutting-edge knowledge on what drives human learning. To this end, school teams’ joint energy for educating needs to be tapped and renewed, and assessment needs to be primarily used to further improve the quality of education.
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