Environmental issues are surprisingly one of the most politically charged and debated topics of the 21st century. A lot of people believe that climate change is an extremely concerning issue and requires nuanced conversation and discussion as to how to tackle it so that future generations are not affected by this. However, another group of people believes that climate change is a hoax. Both sides present their arguments and there definitely needs to be more research into this. However, the topic of climate change is something that needs to be taught to all the students of the current generation across the board because of its relevance and significance in modern society.
What is Environmental Education?
Environmental education refers to organized efforts for teaching how environments function organically in nature, and particularly, how human beings can manage ecosystems and their own behavior to live in a sustainable manner. It is a multi-disciplinary field that integrates disciplines like the sciences (physics, chemistry, and biology) and mathematics with ecology, earth science, and geography.
The UNESCO states that environmental education is quintessential in imparting respect towards nature among society and in improving public environmental awareness. The term generally implies education within the school system, all the way from primary to post-secondary school. It is also actively taught outside the traditional classroom by the use of aquariums, parks, nature centers, and zoos - they all have ways of teaching the public about the environment.
Is Environmental Education Just Information About the Environment?
This is where a lot of students get the fundamentals of environmental education - it is not just information about the environment. Environmental education entails a sense of purpose for the people who study it. Relaying opinions or facts about the environment is just information, raising awareness using that information and making a pragmatic point in polity and society is environmental education. It gives them the space for critical thinking - something that is essential in the wake of learning about the environment. It also gives people a perspective about problem-solving and decision-making skills in their life, something that today’s youth should consider the need of the hour.
Role That Environmental Education Plays in Students’ Lives
Learning about the environment is not just a single-point exchange of information - it extends much beyond that definition. This is a multi-dimensional angle to environmental education and extremely important takeaways that apply not only to a student’s academic life but also to their personal everyday life. Given below are a few important ones.
A Road to Creative Consciousness
Environmental education is interactive learning that requires brainwork - it sparks the imagination of a student and forces them to think creatively. When this is integrated into the curriculum, students are enthusiastic and engaged in learning, which improves student achievement in fundamental academic areas.
Beyond the Paradigm of the Classroom
Not only does it offer opportunities for learning outside of the classroom in the most hands-on fashion imaginable, but it also enables students to make fundamental connections and apply their learning in the realm of the world. Learners get to see firsthand the interconnectedness of ecological, social, economic, political, and cultural issues.
Critical Thinking Development
It encourages students to investigate how and why things take place in the world and make their own decisions about complex environmental issues by enhancing critical and creative thinking skills. It helps generate a generation of informed workers, policy or decision-makers, and consumers.
As mentioned in the beginning, the environment is a topic of much political debate recently, and learning about the environment definitely piques interest in the debate aspect of the whole thing as a whole. Debates in the classroom are one of the most essential exercises that teachers can do - click here to know how.
Introduction to Interdisciplinary Learning
With little to no exposure to proper interdisciplinary learning throughout their primary and secondary education can have a deep burdening effect on students once they move to high school. This can be eliminated by the introduction of environmental education in schools. It will give them a relatively easy way to familiarise themselves with what to expect while studying an interdisciplinary course and how to go about learning.
Fostering Scientific Thought in Young Minds
This is exactly what all countries should be doing - bringing upon the students the necessary information for them to make an informed decision about any topic. It tackles one of the most potent dangers to the environment - educational apathy. By empowering students to take up the reigns of environmental education on themselves, teachers are teaching them to be self-reliant. Click here and read more about how teachers can teach their students how to be truly self-reliant in life in the long run.
Encourages Healthy Lifestyles
It gets students out and active, something today’s children are in desperate need of. It helps address some of the health issues are seen in children today like obesity, learning disorders, and depression. Good nutrition is emphasized and stress is reduced because of the increased time spent in nature.
Even though it is heavily politicized, the youth of today are coming to know why we need to protect our pale blue dot, our only home in the infinite cosmos. We seek to be connected in a sort of tantric trance, and this metaphysical connection, backed by scientific knowledge and action-oriented work will definitely change humanity’s course for the better.