By Teachers, For Teachers
The purpose of schools is to produce contributing community members. In order to best prepare for the future, schools need to model and help students understand the impact each of us have on the world. This includes teaching sustainability in schools and helping students understand the importance and purpose of environmentally friendly practices. This helps students be informed about making decisions that can maintain and improve the world that we live in.
The EPA defines environmental education as “a process that allows individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to improve the environment. As a result, individuals develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues and the skills to make informed and responsible decisions.”
With the amount of information available to students, it is important to have the skills to comprehend the information and apply it to the world around you. Education should be focusing on students using the information rather than just absorbing it. The strength of environmental education is that it allows the learning process to thrive with real world issues. Environmental education allows students to think critically about what they are learning and make informed choices about how to proceed.
In addition to the benefit of the learning process, our physical world is ever-changing. There is a multitude of options in regards to consumption of products and protection, so knowing more about how items are made or that the decisions we make influence a global society has become more important. With the facts continuing to come in about climate change, schools need to teach students that each choice has a benefit or a consequence. This type of problem solving is important not just for global change but can be extrapolated into many areas of an individual’s life.
As schools focus upon helping students be college and career ready, environmental studies is a career field that continues to be rewarding, necessary and in high demand. Therefore, the ability to gather facts, analyze the information, and make informed choices weighing pros and cons is essential to all learning and part of environmental education with many possibilities extending through students’ lives.
With the knowledge that there are environmentally friendly habits that enhance our world, schools are able to do a variety of things that help establish this in students’ lives. Choosing to engage in sustainability projects helps students see the global impact of their actions. Moreover, students begin to establish habits that will continue throughout their lifetime. Some possible sustainability project ideas to bring into your schools are:
While these efforts immediately promote a sustainable, environmentally beneficial atmosphere, they also promote healthy, lifelong habits. The basic tenant of environmental education is to present students with the opportunity to think critically about the choices they make to encourage a green world.
Andrew is a primary school principal and holds a 6th Year Certificate of Advanced Studies in Administration.