Whilst the importance of mainstreaming sustainability in higher education curricula is now widely acknowledged, the challenge for educators at university level is to develop and maintain authority and confidence in an area dominated by limited knowledge and uncertainty. This article suggests that the most empowering and authentic response is to adopt an approach of shared learning, but with the pedagogue demonstrating expertise and inspiration. I suggest that this is an approach to learning and teaching more familiar in areas of craft learning, characterised by apprenticeship and learning-by-doing. The article relies heavily on the work of Richard Sennett in providing a sociological account of craft learning, which is then applied to the field of sustainability. I explore how his three modes of instruction – 'sympathetic illustration', 'narrative' and 'metaphor' – are being used in the field of sustainability education, and draw parallels from the craft of basket weaving in particular, to show how these approaches might be developed. I conclude by suggesting that sustainability education is best undertaken within a community and in place, rather than abstractly and in the classroom.