Panelists highlight that many teachers do not have enough background knowledge on climate change – and this must be addressed
A change in teaching curriculum is needed to effectively educate the youth of today about climate change said experts during a global panel discussion hosted by Qatar Foundation on how the potential of today’s youth can be harnessed to drive action on climate change.
The panel discussion was the first virtual event organized by Qatar Foundation (QF) as part of its contribution to the 2021 Global Goals Week, and was titled How Can We Build More Progressive Education Systems Capable of Empowering Us to Become More Involved in Climate Action?
During her opening remarks, Buthaina Ali Al Nuaimi, President of QF’s Pre-University Education, said: “Progressive education that is action-oriented and based on transformative pedagogy is needed to develop competencies for sustainable development.”
Progressive education that is action-oriented and based on transformative pedagogy is needed to develop competencies for sustainable development
Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Executive Director, Smithsonian Science Education Center pointed out that, in schools today, many teachers do not have the background knowledge to teach climate change education, and so that is the starting point.
“We need to develop curriculum materials or instructional materials to support teachers which will enable them to effectively educate students on this very serious topic of climate change, she said.
When defining the goal of a sustainability mindsets, the first thing is instilling the belief that personal action can lead to positive change
According to Dr. O’Donnell, the ultimate goal is to build sustainability mindsets among students. “When defining the goal of a sustainability mindsets, the first thing is instilling the belief that personal action can lead to positive change,” she explained.
Jamil Ahmad, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, United Nations Environment Program said: “We have to transform the skillsets at universities and better equip them to develop a curriculum and courses which address the issue of climate change.”
Ahmad emphasized that, given the severity of the issue, there is a need to go beyond the formal education curriculum and toward mediums which are outside the realm of formal education, tapping into video games and other aspects of entertainment for students, and using them to instill environmental awareness and a sense of responsibility for taking climate action among the youth.
The youth already have the power, we just need to help them realize it and use it to kickstart change in their communities
Diane Whitehead, CEO, Childhood Education International, spoke about on the importance of teachers and leaders interfacing with students in the right way. "It is really amazing how much of the push for climate action has come from young people today and we see many examples of that worldwide,” she said.
“Many students are very strong on advocacy for environmental issues so it is imperative that we prepare our teachers to be facilitators of the conversations that young people are having around this issue and help them, then, to understand the appropriate ways to take action and how they can be a driving force for change within their community. The youth already have the power, we just need to help them realize it and use it to kickstart change in their communities.”
And Ahmad added: “I do believe that if given the right tools, the youth, with their energy, and teachers, with their commitment, can make the education sector a pioneer in showing others how to deal with climate change.”