Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Sustainability Focused Education Should Start Young

We need to start teaching sustainability at a much younger age. While we are seeing a number of universities and colleges offer sustainability training, we need to see more at the level of primary and secondary schools.

The world has changed and it will continue to change. Global warming and environmental degradation are major concerns today and there is no going backwards. The way most of us were schooled is no longer valid. We need to start inculcating important global issues into children's awareness from the earliest possible ages.

Jonathan Grant, director, sustainability & climate change at PwC, says the focus on sustainability in business schools is too little, too late. “If we start teaching sustainability at MBA level, we are too late. Primary school children seem to spend more time learning about the ancient Egyptians than learning about the environment. Children should have at least one hour per week at primary school on sustainability and climate change, and this should increase as they get older. After all, children starting their education this year will leave university in 2030 – at that point, the low carbon transition should be well under way,” Grant said.

We need to see new approaches to the way we educate children. Rather than individual learning, the world must be integrated into classrooms, children need skills to access and create collaborative, networked knowledge. When it comes to curriculum and instruction, we need to move beyond the approaches that have served us for so long. This means that we will need to update standard modes of learning to enable students to find and pursue their passions.

When we do this we see that children can do some pretty some pretty amazing things. Here a three examples as reviewed by Triple Pundit:

1. Amanda Dennard (Atascocita High School – Humble, TX) who documented sustainable business practices in Brazil and Argentina to learn how emerging markets balance increased productivity and economic growth with social/environmental sustainability efforts to develop a global business unit for students interested in social action.

2. Becca White & Stacy Slater (Ursula Stephens Elementary – Katy, TX) who researched the sustainable food movement in Italy by exploring organic gardens, specifically the first Zero-Waste town of Capannori, to influence organic gardening projects within the school community and influence students’ healthy food choices; and,

3. Daniel Kim (Downey High School – Downey, CA) who explored the flora and fauna of Costa Rica’s marine coastal and rainforest biomes to create more tangible and relevant learning tools for AP Environmental Science students that will improve their comprehension of sustainability and environmental conservancy.

There are a number of resources out there that can help. One such resource is the National Green Schools Society offered by Project Green Schools. This program involves a structured chapter-based program for high-achieving, environmentally focused students to create extraordinary impact in schools, organizations, and communities.

While the schools and programs benefit the children Parents are instrumental in the creation of green schools and curricula focused on sustainability.

Image Credit: EcoWatch

Make sure to see the article titled, "Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources." It contains links to over 300 articles covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, student eco-initiatives, green school buildings, and college rankings as well as a wide range of related information and resources.

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