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Teachers and the Climate Crisis

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According to the UN, there are just 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change.

Some leading scientists suggest that if changes aren’t put in place in the next 12 months, we will be unable to reverse it at all. Many countries – and many more cities and regions – have declared a climate emergency.

And who is leading the charge against climate change? Young people.

School Strikes for Climate

In November 2015, over 50,000 school children participated in a school strike to demand action on climate change. This was organised to coincide with the first day of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Despite not much coming from that, it wasn’t the end of the movement.

In August 2018, Greta Thunberg began sitting outside Swedish Parliament every day during school hours – up until their September elections. Following that, she continued to strike every Friday – coining the slogan FridaysForFuture. This caught the attention of the world.

Since then, the movement has grown globally. Schoolchildren across the world have held strikes and walk outs from school, in protest of the lack of action on climate change. On 15 March 2019, over a million children joined the Global Strike for Future in over 2000 cities worldwide. The purpose was to urge adults to take responsibility and stop climate change.

Children feel let down and have taken it into their own hands to make a difference and protect their futures.

The teacher’s role

For many teachers, this puts them in a difficult situation. Whilst many may support the premise, the outcome of children skipping school creates an issue.

Furthermore, their hands are tied by the National Curriculum, dictating the depth with which climate change is covered in schools. It’s covered in secondary science and geography, but it used to be referenced more extensively in primary school.

Most teachers back the youngsters’ movement and agree with the need for change. Many – in fact 69% of those surveyed by YouGov – believe they should be teaching more about climate change in schools.

What needs to change?

A common opinion amongst climate activists and many schoolteachers is that the education system needs an overhaul, to meet the everchanging challenges that climate change presents. The YouGov poll found that 70% of respondents agreed that the education system needed radical change.

However, whilst it’s agreed that change is needed, are teachers suitably prepared for it?

In order to properly convey the ecological and social impact of climate change, teachers would need an extremely deep understanding of it themselves. The same YouGov poll found that 75% of teachers did not feel adequately trained to educate students.

The climate emergency is one of the biggest issues of our time. And the youngest generation are leading the fight. More training is required for teachers, so that they can educate – and help – the youngsters more.

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