Should climate education be required in schools? | The Tylt
Should climate education be required in schools?
In order to combat the climate crisis, the masses must be informed about the realities of climate change, what has caused these changes, and how they impact people around the world. Rather than focus solely on the most extreme examples of climate change, it is important to connect the dots for students by also educating them on how climate change impacts everyone in different ways.
It is this kind of education that leads to greater innovation. Given that many climate activists have made a point of sacrificing part of their education in order to advocate for change, school systems have a duty to make adjustments in classrooms as well.
Although climate activists agree the climate crisis is not a partisan issue, it is often portrayed as such by the media. As a result, some parents and school systems are wary of climate education in schools, assuming it would be political in nature. Furthermore, there are so many improvements needed in the education system that a climate curriculum is simply one possible change of many. Choosing which adjustments to pursue first is easier said than done.
Changes are already being made in the education system both at home and abroad. Per Chalkbeat's Devna Bose, New Jersey is discussing creative ways to incorporate climate change in public schools' curriculum:
Tammy Murphy, the wife of N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy, is pushing for climate change to be written into the state’s official academic standards, which outline what students should learn in each grade.
Rather than simply teach climate change in science class, Murphy's goal is to incorporate the environment across all subject matters:
That means that schools might require students to write essays about the environment in English class or learn about how water has impacted society in social studies class.
Italy is taking a similar approach. According to the New York Times's Jason Horowitz, Italy's education minister recently announced an upcoming climate education requirement in public schools:
The lessons, at first taught as part of the students’ civics education, will eventually become integrated throughout a variety of subjects — a sort of “Trojan horse” that will “infiltrate” all courses, the education minister, Lorenzo Fioramonti, said.
But for some teachers, a climate change requirement might mean more of a headache. Chalkbeat's Bose continues:
One challenge when it comes to climate change is that high-quality curriculum materials could be hard to come by. In Indiana, where climate change is a required topic in eighth-grade science, for example, teachers have complained about struggling to find credible, up-to-date information.
If this kind of requirement were to be put in place, it is essential that students are given verified information. If there are not enough educational resources for earlier grades, teachers will be left without proper support. According to Indiana Public Radio:
“You might have a purchased curriculum that’s excellent, but on a topic like climate change by the time the book is published it’s already out of date,” says Martha Bowman of Tri-North Middle School in Bloomington. “If we just were to use a textbook, then we would be selling our kids short.”
Instead, many teachers have to wade through endless information online. And this isn’t just an Indiana problem, it’s a national problem.