All important tweet!
The Tweetment of climate change education
Taking a New Year Tweet from President Trump as a starting point, Pete Milne looks at what schools need to do to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
At the beginning of 2018, President Donald Trump tweeted,
“In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”
The “logic” at work here is simple: How can climate change, aka global warming, be real if it is so cold outside?
So how much of this misconception is down to ignorance, a lack of educational coverage/ understanding, or possibly a perceived or real lack of connection, relevance or interest?
Regardless of whether we say that climate change is caused by global warming, or that global warming is one symptom of human-caused climate change, we’re essentially talking about the same basic phenomenon: the build-up of excess heat energy in the Earth system which is having a major effect already and will have long-term implications for the future of the planet.
Becoming more aware of the issues we face together is essential, as is the responsibility we have for future generations in providing solutions to the problems that we have created. Our choices and our actions contribute to the well-being or deterioration of the environment. Yet, it’s our Earth, the only one we have. If we don’t care about the environment, who will?
Education for sustainable development (ESD)
As educators, taking action in schools should be straight forward, right? Not at all, of course, as there are a number of challenges faced in schools including:
- Gaps between awareness and understanding
- Finding out how to become more sustainable
- Moving from individual to collective empowerment
- Finding time and links
- Rigid curriculum planning
- Parental involvement
- Support from school management/budgeting issues
- Creating a framework for professional development linked to ESD
- Linking infrastructure change to mind set change
- Whole community engagement
- A greater sense of Global Citizenship
PD and whole school engagement
While these roadblocks can prevent progress, I have found that the keys to moving forward are by conducting effective Professional Development and promoting whole school engagement initiatives, which ultimately promote the realisation of why climate change is so critical to understand and how actions can help.
Restrictions on the curriculum and time are of course very real. What tends to happen is that perhaps a couple of teachers and an ‘eco’ group drive the agenda as best they can, supported by one or two events through the year. However, this is often not enough to promote whole school awareness of the issues that explain the need for action.
The big issues need understanding
Environmental degradation, climate change, species extinction, rising sea levels, excessive or unequal consumption, resource depletion and lack of wellness in our world are local and global problems, so students need to learn what is going on. These are big issues that need to be properly understood.
Individuals made aware of the effects of global warming through whole school engagment and given opportunities to impact change within their school and the local environment can result in a more concerted effort and focus on:
- Environmental impact reduction
- Increased appreciation for the natural world
- Energy saving and cost cutting
- Understanding and empathy
- Ownership of issues and behaviour change
So why not take a good look at what your school is doing to address climate change and its interlinked consequences?
Maybe start with DJT’s tweet and see what reaction you get!!
Peter Milne is Founder/Director of Target4Green, a UK based company that supports ESD and Global Citizenship through in-school CPD, student assemblies and workshops, as well as consultancy.