Students are saying
“I would adapt the education system to teach about… [climate]… problems and create spaces for innovation. Young people are not given the tools or the guidance to think big and create new systems.”
“People in India face the climate crisis on a daily basis, but access to the latest science around the environment is still limited to elite private schools. Education will bring about awareness and the climate action we need.”
“Climate change is an emergency, and we need to start teaching it as one. To do that means our education system must reflect that and prepare students to face the climate emergency”
“We want people to know how to read and write, so we teach it in school. We want people to know how to interpret information about energy and climate, so we should teach that in school.”
“I’d use education worldwide to instil a real sense of climate responsibility in the next generation.”
“We recognise the issue of climate change is a systemic problem which needs to be addressed… One of the biggest challenges for our generation is how do we rewrite that system.”
“I felt hopeless not doing anything [about climate change].”
“Education for all is a human right, and education about a crisis that is currently upon us and will affect each and every one of us is also a right… It must be one that includes the intersections of the climate crisis, states scientific facts as it is, has frontline defenders and marginalised people’s voices heard and explains how we can make sustainable changes and take action.”
Teachers are saying…
“[For] the majority of teachers who aren’t talking about climate change in the classroom, it’s not that they disagree it is an important issue; it’s that they lack the understanding to speak confidently about it to their students.”
“I couldn’t be a geography teacher because on my Postgraduate Certificate in Education we taught Antarctica without climate change and Population without women’s rights and migration with card sorts. There is much structural and cultural resistance in schools to anything that is not knowledge rich direct instruction.”
“It is clear to me now that teaching young people about these crises without a cohesive, science-informed institutional and cultural framework of climate-literate support does them more harm than good.. We (privileged people in wealthy countries) have a very short window of opportunity to take decisive, systemic action to avert the worst consequences of climate breakdown. Not only do our current emissions targets put us far behind where we need to be, our … education system[s] lack the support our students need to face this reality. Teaching this to an 18 year old is like telling them that they have cancer, then ushering them out the door, saying, “Sorry, Good luck with that”.
It is also fundamentally unfair and unjust for us — part of the generations that have benefitted from unmitigated resource extraction and emissions — to drop the responsibility to fix (or adapt to) the climate crisis in their young laps. They deserve a livable future, and they deserve our apology, immediate action and emotional support to navigate an uncertain future. Honesty, transparency and open dialogue about these climate and ecological crises must form the core of our education.”
Parents are saying…
“More than 80% of parents in the U.S. support the teaching of climate change.”
Government officials are saying…
“As Sir David Attenborough recently told Parliament, we cannot be radical enough in dealing with these issues. This is a climate emergency. And our children and grandchildren will look back on this moment, in generations to come, and ask what we did about it. This is our opportunity to take urgent action to save their planet.”
“We need to understand the anger and the frustration of so many young people around the world. And I think that one of our main tasks now is to try to give them some tools so that they can transform that anger and frustration into solutions."
Education that treats the young as both stakeholders and change agents will be instrumental in shaping the debate and driving the behavior change that will be necessary if we are to avoid climate catastrophe.
Unions are saying …
“Climate education and environmental literacy is going to be a cornerstone upon which a sustainable, net zero economy and climate-friendly jobs can be built now and over the long term. We need governments to step up to this reality sooner rather than later.”
“We have to ensure that the teachers have the knowledge they need to deliver effective climate education and not assume that that knowledge is there already… the world has moved on… We need to make sure teachers have the knowledge and then the professional development to take that knowledge into the pedagogical approaches in the classroom to engage young people in the classroom in …[the climate] agenda.”
“What we teach matters. We must inspire students and communities to action.”
Education experts and researchers are saying …
“Knowing climate change facts is insufficient. This curriculum must also provide a focus on solutions and help students develop the skills and initiative to lead solutions.”
“Although the world has made many technological advances in past decades… we have lagged behind when it comes to preparing society for humanity’s greatest existential threat, the climate crisis… A radical vision for education is needed… [to]…ensure that our education systems are geared toward preparing society for the level of problem-solving and innovative thinking required to transform our economic, social, health, financial, and political systems to meet one of the greatest challenges of our time.”
“Emerging research suggests that it is not any kind of education of which we need more, but rather more quality climate change education that empowers learners with knowledge, strengthens their personal connection to climate solutions, and builds their sense of agency and civic dispositions.”
“A whole-system approach is required, involving innovation in technology and in social, economic and political spheres. We must address this problem now as there are inherent social and economic costs in not transitioning to zero-C as quickly and as justly as possible.”
“…young people need both a strong knowledge base around the causes of a warming climate but also a strong set of skills that will allow them to apply their knowledge in the real world, including problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, coping with uncertainty, empathy, and negotiation. Indeed these very “transferable skills” are needed equally to thrive in the world of work and to be constructive citizens.
Teachers and school administrators are eager to take up the challenge but feel they need more training and relevant learning materials to do so.”
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