Put environment on curriculum

Former primary school teacher Oli Ryan of PlanBee says young children aren’t getting the education they need when it comes to the future of the planet

By Janet Harrison
Saturday, 5th October 2019, 12:00 am
Updated Sunday, 6th October 2019, 2:36 am

Teen eco warrior Greta Thunberg’s impassioned speech to the United Nations moved many to tears.

Thousands of people around the UK recently joined a global climate change protest, with pupils of all ages walking out of schools and making their voices heard.

Oli said: “Children and young people understand all too clearly that the devastating effects of human activity on our planet will affect their generation more than any other.

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“Ignorance and complacency about the world we live in is no longer acceptable, nor will it help children learn to become socially responsible global citizens.

“Teaching children about issues directly related to climate change should go hand in hand with learning about ethical trading, and the harm caused by unchecked, rampant consumerism.”

The former teacher recognises that the school curriculum is packed and teachers are already spending excessive hours planning for curriculum subjects.

Oli added: “I believe that the answer lies in providing affordable, prepared lessons about climate change, social responsibility and global citizenship that are ready to teach and easy to use – regardless of teachers’ prior knowledge of these issues.

“Given that schools already teach their pupils about environmental issues, you might think that they do so because it is already included in the National Curriculum.

“But in primary schools, this is simply not the case: apart from a single reference to exploring the effects of littering and deforestation, there is no mention of other environmental issues.

“While it is important to provide better climate change education, children will want to - and should be - included in shaping their own learning looks like.”

Children are aware of some harmful effects of human activity, but we have not adequately equipped them to address many of the issues contributing to climate change.

Oli added: “Unless we give children the practical skills to tackle climate change, we risk leaving them feeling helpless and ill-prepared for their increasingly uncertain futures.”