Teach the Future has a blog and post of the posts are contributed by its young supporters and members. Here are links to a few recent posts:
Serena Murdoch writes about the language we use to talk (or not talk) about climate issues. Serena compares this with learning a new language: Voulez-vous parler du changement climatique? She writes: “Climate change language can also sound like foreign words–intimidating, unknowable words. They know things are hotter, or wetter, or generally more extreme. But like me in french class, they’re swimming around in words they don’t understand that might be important, but they’re not so sure.”
This is how the post ends:
“Climate denial and inaction don’t usually stem from ignorance, but rather from lack of exposure to language and ideas that help people to understand and communicate about the problem, although political ideology can also get in the way. Regardless of the root cause of denial, delusion, or inaction, climate crisis education is the answer. Similar to that day in french class, without the right exposure and language, that too many of the privileged take for granted, people understandably want to walk away. They want to avoid it and talk about something that’s in their comfort zone.
The lack of language and exposure to climate change have massive knock-on effects; it’s a positive feedback cycle that only gets worse. When it is difficult to understand something, people don’t want to read about it, so the media doesn’t talk about it, and therefore there is even less exposure to the language and ideas. When people don’t want to hear about an issue like climate change, politicians don’t use it to win votes, and therefore not enough political action is taken. When people don’t want to talk about it, life carries on “business as usual”. This french class was quite the epiphany. I am grateful for the chance to gain empathy and understanding that can improve the fight against climate change.
By the end of the lesson, I may not have been able to communicate the complexities of climate change as I could in my head, but I could do so without panicking. It took an hour of talking about these issues, and getting used to the foreign words, for me to regain confidence and enjoy it again. What could a whole day of school do? Or a whole syllabus? For the whole population; in English. This is what, I believe, is the foundation of climate crisis education; language and exposure to key ideas have utmost importance when it comes to inclusivity in climate action.”
Sophie Price writes about the need for interdisciplinary learning in schools if climate-related issues are to be fully explored. This is how she begins:
“Environmental and social justice are inextricably linked; it is as simple and complex as that. Therefore, it only follows suit that at school we should learn about these complex issues such as the climate emergency and systemic racism, in a way that mirrors the very nature of these problems – an interdisciplinary way. It is so important for people to be able to view problems from multiple perspectives to understand the complete picture of these issues. Blurring the boundaries of academic fields such as sociology, history, engineering, and economics allows for maximised innovation. When facing transversal questions and multifaceted problems, to rely solely on the narrow expertise in certain ‘relevant’ fields cannot truly harness the full creativity of our solutions.”
Sophie understands how difficult it will be to achieve all this – given where we are. This is how her post ends:
“As highlighted by the asks of Teach the Future – integrating the principles of sustainability and climate justice into the whole curriculum (from primary to tertiary education) allows students to explore a complex issue drawing upon a melting pot of perspectives and ideas rather than limiting students to the tunnel hole vision of GCSE science.”
Henry Webb argues that our education system isn’t ready for the climate crisis. This is how he begins:
The pandemic has exposed the flaws in the current model of education, such that we can no longer choose to ignore them. Someone pointed out to me the other day that while this year’s GCSE and A-level students have essentially been told that everything they’d done to prepare for their “life-changing” exams was pointless, students next year are expected to return to the old mindset of “these exams will determine your future”. Which, I can say from experience, is far from true.
Exams have their place, but as a means of assessing most learning, they are essentially useless. Not to mention, for a large number of students they can end up just becoming a source of unnecessary stress. But the greatest issue with these tests is the way they dominate the content we are taught, and the way we are taught it. While tests are changed annually for obvious reasons, exam specifications remain the same for years and, even when they are renewed, the changes to content are often fairly minor. Education is about more than just exams, and course content just can’t adapt fast enough to cover issues like climate change. Yet even for the best teachers, it can be difficult to fit in essential discussions of current events and issues when there is so much, often irrelevant, content to prepare students for pointless exams. The point is, most teachers want to do their job properly, but they are usually either unequipped to or under pressure to prioritise grades over real learning.
And how he ends:
Education is no longer fit for purpose. Most teachers are not trained to prepare students to deal with the climate and ecological emergency, and those that are can’t do so to their full potential. We let fossil fuel companies pollute our education system, and are not made aware of their lies. We need a complete overhaul of the way students are taught and assessed, the way teachers are trained, and the career options we are given after our education. Now, we have an opportunity to do so. Let’s not waste it.
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