Why Environmental Education is Important for Children

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The world our children are growing up in is changing in so many ways. Future generations are going to be faced with rising sea levels, an increase in the number of natural disasters, climate change, the loss of agricultural land, and a reduction in biodiversity. Tropical diseases will extend their reach, countries and factions will compete over decreasing fresh water supplies and more and more people will become migrants and refugees as parts of their homelands become uninhabitable. Those are big challenges for society to face. Our children need to be ready – they need to be educated.

Global, national, personal
Although these issues might seem overwhelming, there are things that national governments can do to reduce the rate of climate change and deal effectively with its consequences. Our children are the generation that will need to take charge of this. They will need the know-how to develop effective policies. They’ll also be able to make changes at a personal level, from adopting more eco-friendly diets to driving electric cars, insulating their homes, generating their own eco-friendly energy, and recycling, repairing and repurposing the things they buy.

Introducing environmental issues
Helping children to engage with environmentalism starts with small things. Keeping pets – even small animals – helps them to understand the relationship between the individual and the environment. Going on nature trips helps them see how different factors in the environment interact. Craft projects can help them to become enthusiastic about recycling even when they’re too young to understand why it matters, and as they get older environmental education can become a part of their schooling, enriching their perspective on biology, chemistry, geography, engineering and more. Principles derived from environmentalism also give them the ability to see how all the subjects they learn fit together, building cross-disciplinary skills that give them an advantage in a changing economy.

Educating the public
Children attending good schools get to learn about environmental issues and what they can do to make the world better, but it’s still important to find ways of reaching out to people more widely, so part of what schools need to teach is how to do effective outreach work. Students from Stamford American international school in Singapore contributed to a video promoting Global Earth Hour in 2016, helping people around the world to understand why protecting the environment matters. It was a year in which over 400,000 people engaged with Earth Day educational events in the US alone, but there are billions of people who still need to be persuaded to change the way they live, so every effort matters.

Inheriting the Earth
Educating young people not only prepares them for what they will inherit – it helps to give them a voice in the present. That means adults who are careless about the environment have to deal here and now with the people who will live with their mistakes, which is in itself a way of bringing about change. Properly educated well-informed children can speak up for themselves and defend their future.

 

 

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