“Education, Climate, Action” – was a teacher-led event in London last Monday aimed at bringing organisations together. NAEE President, Prof Justin Dillon was there and here are his thoughts on the event. As ever with our blogs the ideas expressed are not necessarily those of the Association.

Ian, the chemistry teacher from a local school, admitted to being nervous as he welcomed the 40 or so people squeezed into the airless, black curtain-shrouded Bloomsbury Studio. They hadn’t expected so many of us to show up, he confided to me afterwards.

Few in the audience knew what exactly was going to happen; details of the programme had been scarce. The evening had been advertised as a roundtable event to share work and ideas, to network with other organisations interested in education and climate, and to find opportunities for collaboration.

The original invitation came from XR Educators which made us (NAEE) somewhat wary given Extinction Rebellion’s rather controversial track record. However, one senses that XR have metamorphosed into something softer and more savvy, with an early encouragement to take home a free copy of a book on ‘nudging’ change rather than being urged to block bridges for days.

With teachers leading the evening’s activities, we were kept busy, and I found myself writing answers to difficult questions on flipchart paper and ‘dating’ other attendees. I met colleagues from Eco Schools, Christian Aid, Brighton & Hove City Council (‘Our City, Our World’), Plant-based Universities, Teach the Future. My other UCL colleagues met with representatives from the NEU Climate Change Network, SOS-UK and the Ministry of Eco Education. Charlie Gardner, the researcher, conservationist and activist, not so fresh from a 15-day, 180-mile, ‘Walking in Water’ walk to raise awareness of sea level rises in the East of England, urged us to ‘act like there’s an emergency’. There was a bar. Everyone was white.

Overall, the evening was very successful and kudos to XR Educators for coming up with the idea. Part of me was frustrated that the main outcome might be a joint letter to the Guardian or the Times Ed, but we don’t meet up and share ideas anywhere near enough. The event could have been a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference but at least we were saved from travelling on Avanti West Coast and could meet some new people doing excellent work.


Justin can be contacted at justin.dillon@ucl.ac.uk

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