Sustainability, Climate Change and Education
To anyone out there who has been checking in and waiting for a new post: my apologies. You see, for the past two weeks, most of my free time has been spent either doing yard work (because NOW is the precious time between snow and BUGS!) or working on a presentation about climate change.
Every year, the teachers of my school board get together for an “Area Association Meeting” where we discuss the state of our little school board (6 schools, 100 staff, about 850 students) have elections and celebrate a particular teacher for their exceptional work (no, it wasn’t me). As part of the day, there are usually professional development presentations such as how to use technology in the classroom, working with students with learning disabilities and the like. These are usually done by experienced fellow teachers who wish to share their knowledge.
This year, when we were asked if anyone wished to do a presentation, I offered to do one on climate change. Although I do not consider myself an expert, I believe I have a responsibility to raise awareness about the subject whenever the opportunity presents itself. Also, I knew that the folks at 350.org were having their Connect the Dots campaign (I recommend you take a look – the photos are quite inspiring) on May 5th, the day after our Association Meeting. So, I figured I could do my part by creating some awareness among my fellow teachers.
I spent many hours looking through websites and documents as well as speaking to a climatologist at the University of PEI in order to create a presentation that explained what climate change is, how we know it is happening, how it is affecting PEI and places around the world, what needs to be done and the benefits of taking action. I was (and still am) very proud of what I put together. Unfortunately, I was not given enough time to go through the entire presentation – our Education Minister arrived early and presentations were cut short so we could listen to him speak.
However, after the presentation, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who happens to work on science and math curricula at the Department of Education. We were asking ourselves what kind of changes should be made to the education programs in order to properly prepare our students for the realities of tomorrow. As I hope most of you will agree, battling climate change and creating a sustainable society requires more that just discussing environmental issues every once in a while. It has to be a change in values, a change in how we see the world and the natural resources that it offers.
We can’t just make that kind of change by offering an environmental sciences course in high school (although that would be a great thing to do). We have to teach children about the importance of nature, the importance of biodiversity and the necessity of clean air, water and soil, as early as possible. We have to make them understand the importance of conservation and the dangers of consumption. We have to make children understand that the contents of a garbage can do not magically disappear after the garbage man puts it in his truck. But how do we do it?
And so, I leave you with a question that I hope you will answer in the comments section below: What, if any, should be the role of schools in preparing our children to be responsible citizens and responsible stewards of the Earth?
As always, I look forward to reading what you have to say.