Teachers “want to encourage children to take action against climate change”


e half of teachers in England are in favor of children learning to take direct action on climate change, according to a survey.

The research, led by the University of Bristol, involved asking 626 primary and secondary teachers across England for their views on climate change education.

Teachers almost unanimously believed in an action-oriented climate change curriculum that was integrated into all subject areas, starting with conservation projects at the start of primary school.

The results also showed that 54% of those surveyed believed this should extend to participation in civil disobedience in high school.

Students take part in global school strike against climate change / AP Archives

The study, published in the journal Environmental Education Research, found that 72% of those surveyed were already teaching or talking about climate change with their students.

Lead author Professor Paul Howard-Jones said: “Teachers want their students to be informed about their thinking and what they are doing in the face of the climate emergency.

“They are ready and willing to move forward with radical, action-oriented education programs that can help students drive our response to climate change.”

A recent Ipsos survey found that only 42% of teachers in the United States teach or talk about climate change with their students.

In total, 97% of teachers surveyed in England believed climate change was human-caused, compared to 39% of respondents in the United States.

In England, 19% of teachers thought climate change was more important for additional funding than science, technology, technology and math (STEM) subjects.

However, only 5% of teachers in the United States would prioritize climate change.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg / PA wire

Professor Howard-Jones, School of Education at the University of Bristol and the Cabot Institute for the Environment, added: ‘Although it is under-represented in the national agenda, climate change is something something that fascinates many young people.

“The school children were inspired by Greta Thunberg who demonstrated the importance of peaceful protests in raising awareness of the climate crisis and spurring individual and large-scale change.

“They have also seen the tactics of groups like Extinction Rebellion and many have already become activists.

“Our research indicates that teachers are ready to support their activism through an action-oriented approach to climate change education.

“With COP26 in the UK in November, there has never been a better time to reflect on how we are preparing young people for today’s defining issue.

The study, “Teachers’ Perspectives in England on an Action-Oriented Climate Change Curriculum,” is published in Environmental Education Research.

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