This year, approximately 50 million students will attend elementary and secondary school in the United States. Every morning, when I and millions of others struggle to get out of bed, wondering if it’s really necessary to wake up so early, it’s obvious that we have no other choice.
School is the one thing we all have in common. It’s where we learn fascinating subjects, meet new people, and most importantly, prepare ourselves with skills and habits that we hope to use for the rest of our lives.
If school plays such an important role in our childhood, shouldn’t our government, which makes our education compulsory, do its best to teach us what we need to become better citizens?
If the answer is yes, what does it mean to be a “better citizen”? I’m sure there are many criteria, but for me and a growing number of people, having knowledge about the environment is one of them.
Future generations will be the ones facing serious climate-related issues, and if schools don’t teach it properly now, there will be a significant learning disparity in the future when these issues become more apparent.
In a world where environmental issues are so controversial, wouldn’t an educated generation help alleviate the chaos while empowering those who are threatened by environmental dangers? Yes, but it depends on how it’s done.
Many people think that environmental education can be too extreme. Some schools teach children pessimistic views about their interactions with the environment. The idea that “we must act now” creates more panic than learning. Many parents, especially those working in fields that contribute to global emissions, are concerned about this environmentalist bias. Others think our environmental interactions are normal and shouldn’t be a concern.
The challenge of teaching students about the environment has become more important than ever. Our goal shouldn’t be to scare them away, but rather to help them understand a need for improvement.
To do this, students need to have a thorough understanding of their ecological footprint. Teaching concepts such as reducing, reusing, recycling, decreasing the use of single-use plastics and the impact of food on global emissions will empower them to decide what they can do to be more eco-friendly. the environment.
When dealing with controversial topics, it is crucial to allow students to develop their own perspectives. Take fracking, for example. Instead of starting with the negatives, the topic should be introduced by talking about how almost all of us depend on it to heat our homes, generate electricity and power our vehicles. Then the discussion can move on to the question of why hydraulic fracturing cannot be a long-term solution for sustainable energy production.
Suppose one day we can provide students with multiple perspectives, facts, and rationales for understanding our environmental interactions. So what merit will those who oppose environmental education have in asserting their claims?
In 2020, New Jersey became the first state to make climate change education mandatory for K-12 students. As Pennsylvania and other states develop their action plans, I hope they work hard to create a program that works – one based on facts, not opinions. Only then will we have succeeded in producing a generation ready to face the problems that are yet to come.