Climate Change and the Classroom: What can we do?

There is a lot in the news about climate change, young people striking for the future, and teachers and schools becomings sites of political activism. I’m on leave from school at the moment, until the end of the calendar year. It’s a really privileged position to be in; I get to watch from the sidelines as to what’s happening in schools, what’s happening around schools and how it fits in with general media and social discourse.

For now, I’m ignoring Brexit.

While I have been on leave from work, I have by no means been outside of the world of work and inactive professionally. I’ve been working on a project called You and CO2, led by Dr Jennifer Rudd from Swansea University and it has been utterly fascinating. I’m working within a Welsh context and learning a lot. My task has been to analyse digital fictions, rather like interactive stories, written by young people as part of a series of workshops on climate change. Reading their views and their ideas for action has been inspiring.

This week, I have attended a conference organised by Jennifer for teachers and educators on incorporating climate change into their lessons, planning and potentially their whole school culture. It has been inspirational. The talks from people working in different stages of education and in diverse settings gave practical ideas, methodologies, and tried-and-tested examples of how we can mindfully and constructively embed climate change education into our own settings.  We were given resources, we were shown lesson plans and we heard a talk from a young climate activist who has already taken on some of the lessons that perhaps we, as adults, should already be acting on.

All this was undertaken within the context of the reviewed Welsh curriculum, which will have cross curricular learning, a global outlook and ethical citizenship at its heart. I saw ways that I will be able to adjust my own teaching and help encourage my students to see what they can do. I saw ways that I can make small changes in my own life which will benefit the environment and make it better. Most of all, I saw passion and integrity combined with hope and practical ways forward, ways that I can use and pass on.  

And for that I am most grateful.

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