We all like to think we do our bit for the environment, turning the washing machine down to 30 degrees, installing solar panels and so on. But in reality many believe it will take a generation (around 25 years) for sustainability to become truly common place within a domestic environment. So far, not enough people are educated on the subject to make an impact for the future, and sustainability has only become a vital subject in the last 5 years, really only since the recession has struck. In order to keep progressing towards making a change for life it is important to educate the younger generations, those who can grow up in a lifetime of caring for the environment and understanding the impact we have on it.
A recent Unicef poll showed that 75% of 11 to 16 year olds were worried about how Global warming will change the world and want the government to do more to tackle the threat. So it was extremely worrying this week, to see that the Government are seeking to do the reverse and cut environmental education from the National Curriculum for children aged between 5 and 14 years old. That’s their whole lower education, with no environmental awareness lessons.
What is to be removed in the existing curriculum is the interdependence of humans and their environment, and the impact of that on ‘change’ including environmental change. It openly teaches children about sustainable development and its impact on environmental interaction and climate change.
In the proposed copy of the National Curriculum, there is no mention of climate change in the criteria for the teaching of Geography. Only once the children reach GCSE’s level, aged 14-16 years, will they be educated and even then, only if they choose Geography. There is also only a single mention of how Carbon Dioxide produced by humans impacts the environment in the Chemistry section, there are no references at all to sustainable development.
John Ashton, a previous representative for the Governments climate change work says; ‘Climate change should have as much prominence as anything in teaching Geography in schools. The shift of any mention of climate change from Geography to Chemistry makes me more concerned, not less. What’s important is not so much the Chemistry as the impact on the lives of human beings, and the right place for that is Geography.’
In a letter produced by academics, Politicians, business leaders and leading environmental figures, state that;
- All existing references to care and protection would be removed. This is unfathomable and unacceptable. Today’s children are tomorrow’s custodians of nature.
- There is a duty to ensure that all pupils have the chance to learn about threats to the natural world, to be inspired to care for it, and to explore ways to preserve it and restore it.
- These proposals not only undermine our children’s understanding and love of nature, but ultimately threaten nature itself.
Worryingly the changes have been welcomed by some groups including the Geographic Association, and the Royal Geographical society, who believe that the proposed changes provide a better grounding in Geography before students go on to tackle climate change.
It is critical to keep this education in the National Curriculum – in my experience it is the children in our households who are actively bringing home latest news about climate change, looking after the wider environment, and changing the way we live for future generations. this is a topic that they are embracing with the energy and passion we really need. It may be too late for older generations to create a noticeable change, but by educating future generations we can be sure there will be a positive impact to come.
What is heart warming to see is that 15 year old Esha Marwaha (seen here, third from the left) has started a petition to help try and keep climate change in the National Curriculum for children under 14 years old. She has had a great response and received over 28,000 signatures. In fact two separate petitions were submitted to the Department for Education totalling in around 65,000 signatures, which is such a great figure to see. Good on you Esha !
Find out more about Esha Marwaha’s campaign here and keep environmental education on the National Curriculum.