The climate crisis is real. Recent developments in government legislation with the introduction of the LOMLOE means it will now be compulsory for schools to tackle issues surrounding climate change: indeed, one of the five guiding principles is an increased focus on sustainable development and global citizenship. In today’s post we are going to look at the changes the law introduces and how you can adapt your classes to meet them.
What does the law say?
The new law states that by the end of primary education students should: “understand the systemic relationships between human actions and the environment. Students begin to adopt sustainable life habits, in order to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity from both a local and global perspective.”
They should also “understand the systemic relationships of interdependence, eco-dependence and interconnection between local and global actions. They should also adopt a sustainable and eco-socially responsible lifestyle.”
Hopefully, this newly found focus on bringing sustainability to the forefront of education will help tackle the climate crisis by ensuring future generations are aware and prepared to help prevent an impending global catastrophe.
Understanding the relationships between humans and the environment.
While there are a raft of resources available to aid us in our classes, which we should certainly be taking advantage of it is also imperative that we, as educators , allow students to see and feel how the connection of our actions, as humans, have an effect on the planet.
A very simple and effective way of drawing students attention to this is by having a litter pick. Something I have done in my role as the founder of Renewable English has been to work with the local primary school in arranging a “School Run Litter Pick.”
You can even turn it into a competition between classes.
This is a wonderful way to show children they can make a difference on a micro scale and draw their attention to the problem on a macro scale. There is an obvious connection between the litter found on the floor and the fact it was put there by humans.
Students begin to adopt sustainable life habits, in order to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity from both a local and global perspective.
This act of litter picking is a great way to start the environmentalist ball rolling. It’s a simple fun and social way of helping the planet.
Afterwards, students can talk about the effects litter can have on a global scale with the pollution of global water ways. Rather than leaving students with a feeling eco-anxiety, the litter pick will leave them feeling empowered. A feeling that they can truly make a difference.
In turn this will bring about the conversation about improving our individual habits and use of single-use plastics. What I like to do here with my students is start a recycling tally. First in the classroom and then for students at home.
We start by looking at what we can and can’t recycle. Then emphasize that while it’s good to recycle it should really be a last resort. Reducing what we consume is a far better way to help the planet.
Once students are clear on what can and can’t be recycled I ask them to keep a recycling diary. This gets whole families involved. It serves as a wonderful way of looking closely at what we use at home. It gives us a great opportunity to see if we can reduce what we’re using. Or, when we can’t, perhaps look for more sustainable alternatives. It’s also a great way of getting numbers and mathematics into your classroom.
Understand the systemic relationships of interdependence, eco-dependence and interconnection between local and global actions
As far as the new laws go this is perhaps the trickiest aspect to get into your classrooms. One great example here is Greta Thunberg. Showing your students about her Strike for Climate and her Fridays For Future movement draws a clear connection between a local action becoming global.
You can also show the correlation between what we consume and the effect it has on the planet in general. 1 pair of jeans can equal up to 15,000 litres of water. We can see that with the number of droughts across the planet this isn’t sustainable and these local acts have global impacts.
The key here is connecting that what we do and what we buy has to come from somewhere. It also has to get to where we are. One wonderful activity is to show the life cycle of a T-shirt.
The video is quite alarming, so after watching this video students can discuss the best way to avoid the over consumption of materials. With every step of the journey we should always be focusing on the positive of what we can do, not what is currently being done.
They should also adopt a sustainable and eco-socially responsible lifestyle
The idea of a recycling diary is a wonderful start to leading a more eco-socially responsible life style. Another way to help with sustainable habits is to work on a list of top tips to reduce our waste. A great way to introduce these are through video. Here are a couple I like to use in my classes. Video 1 Ali’s Top Food Waste Tips. Video 2 Speak Out for Sustainability.
There are plenty more of those for all walks of life. The great thing about these videos is they have direct tips that students can put straight into action. I ask my students to put as many into action as they can. We can then discuss some of their own. These tips make for a delightful display in the classroom. Having these “ways to reduce” tips on show will keep them at the front of your and your classes’ minds.
This raised awareness will lead to them bringing these changes to the minds of their friends and families, thus creating a more eco-aware society around them.
A look at places across the globe where positive climate action is working is a way of underlining that we can make a difference. A great place to start with this is Zac Effron’s Netflix series “Down To Earth”.
There are hundreds of ways to get your classroom greener, not simply because of a change to the law but also for the greater good of the planet. You as a teacher can be the person to make that change.
Have you heard about our Speak Out for Sustainability project, created in tandem with the BBC studios? This project provides resources and live lessons for teachers and students to raise awareness and inspire interaction and indeed action on sustainability questions. If you ever need our help please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can find us across social media on @pearsonenglishlearning. I’m also at your disposal @renewableenglish or at www.renewableenglish.com