According to research conducted by the University of Bristol, more than half of teachers in England favor instructing children on how to take action against climate change at ages as early as five.
In a study published in the journal entitled Environmental Education Research, 626 primary and secondary school teachers were surveyed regarding their opinions on climate change with respect to education. Almost all teachers responded that they believe in the implementation of a climate change curriculum focused on action which would be integrated throughout different subject areas.
The first stage of this educational programming would begin during early primary school with simple activities like conservation projects. On the more controversial side, the survey also indicated that 54 percent of teachers believe secondary school students should be participating in civil disobedience as part of climate action instruction, according to Daily Mail.
While climate change activism has primarily been driven by climate scientists and adult activists, Swedish teenage climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg ignited a spark in the younger generation. Thunberg first rose to fame after starting her own ‘school strike’ outside the Swedish parliament when she was just fifteen years old. The lead author of the study by the University of Bristol, Professor Paul Howard-Jones, credits Thunberg with inspiring more children.
Regarding the outcome of the study, Howard-Jones said, “[Teachers] are ready and willing to move forward with radical, action-oriented programmes of education that can help students drive our response to climate change.” A 2019 survey by Ipsos reported that only 42 percent of teachers in the United States were teaching or discussing climate change with their students, and just 45 percent of parents talk to their children about the issue. Overall, more than three fourths of the 1,007 surveyed U.S. adults believe schools should teach climate change in some form.
The largest disagreement regarding implementing a curriculum falls along party lines where 91 percent of Democrats surveyed feel that schools should teach climate change compared to just 66 percent of Republicans (NPR). Although the majority of Americans favor discussions about climate change in the classroom, no serious strides have yet been made towards instituting a program.
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH A. HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WBUR
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