Image of crowd of youth strikers for climate from Teach the Future

Interview: Teach the Future

Following our recent activities alongside the Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate team, we wanted to find out more about the Teach the Future campaign so afterwards, we dropped them a line with a few questions.

Put your seatbelt on for a rollercoaster of an articulate interview from Mary Skuodas, a 15 year old Teach the Future volunteer:

How and when did Teach the Future come to exist, was there an awakening moment where the founder/founding team thought, ‘I/We’ve got to do something!’

  • From the UK Student Climate Network’s (UKSCN) beginning, education change was one of our key demands for the government, but this was limited to change to the National Curriculum. After a few months and a bit of research, we realised this wasn’t enough as it didn’t cover Universities or Academies (over half of all secondary schools).
  • Last October, we launched Teach the Future and we quickly realised that the current education system – designed to prepare us for the future – was massively outdated and unfit for purpose.
  • Our futures will be shaped by the climate crisis and compulsory education barely touches on it. After that point, bit by bit, we formed the 6 Asks we have now and we believe these will properly restructure the education system in the way that is needed.
  • For me, reading the research surrounding education on the climate crisis shocked me the most and it fuelled my work on this further: only 4% of students feel adequately educated on the climate crisis, ¾ of teachers don’t feel like they can sufficiently teach the climate crisis and the climate crisis is mentioned in as few as 10 in every 10,000 lessons. It’s evident that this needs to change and Teach the Future aims to address this with the weight it deserves.

What are the main aims of the organisation?

  • Teach the Future has 6 asks, that, in essence, aim to adequately educate students, train teachers to have the skills to teach the climate crisis, provide schools with the money to support student-led activism and action on the climate crisis and adapt their school environment to become carbon neutral.
  • We have written a Bill, the first Bill written by students about their own education. At our parliamentary reception on the 26th of February, in order to gain support from MPs and Peers, we hope the Bill will be passed through Parliament, as rapid action is necessary to combat the climate crisis at all levels.

What response have you received from the government regarding your demand to review the education system?

  • We are excited to be in Parliament on the 26th February to publicly launch Teach the Future and present our asks to MPs and Peers and are looking forward to starting conversations with them at the event. We have received many messages of support from both MPs, Peers and Supporters like the Word Forest Organisation and hope that support will continue through the future.
From the march we attended recently in Bristol

How many people have taken part in Friday strikes?

  • In September 2019, Fridays For Future hosted another global climate strike, open to students, children, adults, workers and teachers and the turnout was massive. We saw an estimated 7.6 million walk out of their places of work and education to demand rapid, adequate action to properly address the climate crisis. The population is behind us, we now need to progress this into legislation and action.

What’s the best way for supporters to help spread your message?

  • At this point in our campaign, writing to your MP to encourage them to support Teach the Future is the most supportive thing you can do for us. Sharing our campaign as far as possible and gaining support from organisations, MPs, Peers and educators would be so, so helpful.
  • We are also launching another pop-up crowdfunder on our website next week. If you feel like you can donate to help Teach the Future continue, head over to our website to learn more.

If you could give 3 bits of advice for students to help alleviate their eco-anxiety, what would they be?

  • My 3 pieces of advice would be education, action and inspiration. Education is essential in understanding the facts of a situation and the necessary action we must take to address it.  Although it can seem difficult to read more facts that highlight the severity of the situation, it has been proven by child psychologists that having this understanding, rather than letting these thoughts and fears run away with you, is essential in addressing eco-anxiety .
  • The second is action. In the words of Greta Thunberg, “Instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then and only then, will hope follow”. We can’t expect students to not be fearful if they aren’t taking action or seeing others around them taking pragmatic action. We ask for the government to introduce 2 different funds, so students of all ages can take this action without the financial barrier.
  • Finally, inspiration. As a student who found her voice by empowering others to enact change, particularly in their school environment, there is nothing more empowering and satisfying, than inspiring others and multiplying that impact through everyone you contact. 
  • Our current education system isn’t supporting eliminating eco-anxiety. Those who graduate university enter the world of work with circa 50k of debt, encouraging them to take jobs that pay well and not jobs that are sustainable, do good and work towards solutions of the climate crisis.
  • Our education system is fundamentally flawed and that is why, with you and supporters of The Word Forest Organisation, we hope to Teach the Future. 

Visit TeachTheFuture.uk or email them at hello@teachthefuture.uk to find out more or help support their urgent cause.

Our CEO, Tracey commented: “I’m blown away by Teach the Future’s well laid out aims and plan – they absolutely have my support. There aren’t ‘holes’ in the current education system, there are gaping chasms! They need filling swiftly with knowledge and solutions – the government needs to seriously step up its green game.”

“Here’s hoping Teach the Future’s Bill gets every ounce of support required to push it through. In the meantime, education at grassroots via the peaceful, animated Friday strikes, environmental clubs, eco-talks and green film screenings, will have to suffice – speaking of which, be sure to watch #TreesAreTheKey narrated by Kate Winslet. If you like it, host a fundraising community screening and get people in your neighbourhood talking about trees. The funds you raise will allow us to get more urgently needed trees in the ground.”

The Team

Additional Reading: UK Student Climate Network

UKSCN was set up by a small group of volunteers that were inspired by the powerful and direct protests made by young people against climate inaction across the rest of Europe. In particular, young climate activist Greta Thunberg’s speeches and ideas are central to our mission. This involves radically reforming the role and power of young people in national action against climate change. To achieve this we will employ strong and repeated student-led protests to promote our diverse voices calling for a common aim. With 200 species going extinct every day and water scarcity affecting up to 360 million people, our objectives have never been more relevant.