poster with statistics from Teach the Future

Why Teaching Climate Change in Schools is Critical

We’ve featured the amazing folks that run Teach the Future in our news feed before and we’re delighted to do it again.

In case you haven’t heard of them, Teach the Future are an inclusive, well organised, persistent campaign organisation run by incredibly dedicated secondary and tertiary education students. Their aim is to greatly improve education on the climate emergency and ecological crisis in the UK.

They’ve just released some astonishing new research, the core data revealed is jaw-dropping:

  • Only 17% of schools mention climate change in core subjects
  • Only 65% of schools mention climate change in science lessons
  • Only 63% of schools mention climate change in geography lessons
  • Only 27% of teachers feel they have received adequate training on any aspect of climate change
  • 70% of teachers feel they have not received adequate training on any aspects of climate change
Image by Alexas Fotos from Pexels

The Solution isn’t Rocket Science

Here are some of Teach the Future’s innovative ideas to arm our leaders of the future with the right tools:

Teach Students About Climate Change
Students need to be taught about the climate emergency and the ecological crisis: how they are caused, what we can do to mitigate them and what our future lives and jobs are going to look like as a result of them. ​Sustainability and these crises need to become key content in all subject areas. Additionally, it’s blatantly clear that the educators themselves need to be trained in how to present lessons on these difficult topics, in a way that empowers the students. They also need vital funding, and digital and paper resources to do this.

Include Green Skills in Many Vocational Courses
The UK needs a supported workforce that is fully able to bring us to net-zero emissions by 2050. This could also make us world leaders in sustainable technologies. In order for that to happen, vocational courses need to include the appropriate green skills needed to achieve this remit.

Make Educational Buildings Climate-Friendly
The educational buildings we conduct our studies in play an essential role in how and what we learn. By retrofitting them so they comply to net-zero emission standards by 2030, we could/would create green jobs across the country and inspire students to live more sustainably.

Image by Pang Yuhao on Unsplash

Technical Policy and Parliamentary Stuff
I’m a strong believer in grassroots groups and the power of community action. However, I’ve also learned that it’s prudent to find time in your busy schedule to include a bit government lobbying.

The Teach the Future Team have written policy documents that explain how they want their proposed changes to happen and outline why they are necessary: for establishments in England, this also includes a bill written with assistance from a lawyer.

If you give governing bodies the tools they’re clearly going to require to get stuff done – providing they actually share your values and enthusiasm to make it so, that is – they’ll have no excuse to say it was too complicated to implement and you stand a slightly better chance of them taking swifter action to champion your cause.

Image by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

Sustainability in all shapes and forms needs to be taught, lived and breathed throughout the education system, from day nursery upwards. You are forgiven for thinking, hey, it’s 2021, surely we’ve got adequate measures in place already… this data reveals that’s evidently not the case, not by a long shot.

Our own recent experience with undergraduates (from a University everybody will be familiar with but I refuse to namedrop) confirms it too; more guidance, knowledge, encouragement and additional physical and human resources are urgently required to get this right – there’s no time left to faff about. Mr Johnson, get on with it!

Simon West: Chair of Trustees The Word Forest Organisation

The Teach the Future Team conclude by saying, “We don’t just want future ecologists and/or geographers to understand sustainability. We need farmers, bankers, builders and everyone else to consider it in everything they do. Young people need adults to push for this change so that they can be ready for a sustainable future.”

One of the key ways you can help them is by signing their petition calling for the leaders in the education system to ‘up their game’. Once you’ve done that, share the call out on your social media platforms.

Every positive action counts.

Tracey West and The Team

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