Recently I visited the blog site for the University of Oregon’s ENG 104: Climate Change Fiction course, and posted a question inspired by our two classes to their site in response to one of their subject posts. I asked “When theorizing future global warming and climate change in the hopes to bring about environmental awareness and conservationism, I assert students must be engaged early, at the elementary and middle school age range, to foster an interest in any subject matter and to build intellectual curiosity; with this in mind, how do you create an educational study methodology to build an interest in ecology, environmentalism, weatherization, global warming and climate change for this age group?”
I got a most eloquent reply and answer from Stephen Siperstein, his comment was as follows:
Dennis — thanks for the reply and for posing such an important question. I think the key for students in the elementary school range (or even younger) is to encourage them to develop an interest and love in the more-than-human world as a way of establishing the building blocks of what Mitchell Tomashow has called “ecological identity”– a way of seeing and feeling about oneself that acknowledges interdependence with more than human world; not just a different abstract model of how the world is constituted but also a visceral, emotional engagement with that world. This kind of education — based in experiential learning (like farming, fieldwork, etc) — can then be a base for learning about the sometimes more abstract issue of climate change in middle and high school. Overall though, in all stages of learning, I think the most important approaches for learning about climate change come not just from the sciences, but from the humanities: how to think about self and others, how to read one’s world (and the texts one encounters) critically, how to consider ethical issues, etc.
I think there was another threaded post on this blog specifically about educating young students — you might want to check that out.
Thanks for contributing!
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