Why don’t we teach children about climate change?
This article originally featured in The Skylark’s newsletter and was written as a condensed news in brief.
UK curriculum is failing to teach children about climate change
In 2019, it was the collective voice of millions of children around the world that sparked the push for serious action against climate change. Although the stale, pale conferences continue to stutter and stall to deliver the change needed, the waves of energetic and urgent children and young adults see no sign of dying down.
This is not surprising. The under 20s are going to have to face the worse of climate change than any other generation and, thanks to accessible leadership from the likes of Greta Thunberg, they know and believe that they can make a difference and keep this issue at the top of the agenda.
These young people are not following a band wagon. They are educated. They have read the science. They have listened to the facts. They have ignored the propaganda and dodged the dodgy deflections. And they’ve had to do it this way, because despite getting most of the knowledge and education from school, climate change barely features on the national curriculum.
In 2013, Michael Gove, education secretary at the time, was accused of pandering to climate change deniers when specific references to climate change was removed from the national curriculum in favour of a more general requirement to teach environmental change.
Some changes have been made. In GCSE science, evidence for human caused climate change is discussed, the rise of renewable energy, consequences and responses to extreme weather conditions and since 2017, students can take an environmental A level. But considering that climate change will affect not only everyone but every sector on this planet, the study of such effects don’t even scratch the surface.
Beyond geography, biology and some chemistry, climate change has a place in economics, history, social studies, media, arts, food studies and design technology. But it features in none of these categories. Some schools have taken the matter into their own hands, trying to send teachers on extra training. But with the education budget continually cut, there is little money for these expensive courses.
COP26 provides yet another opportunity for the UK to show some signs of leadership and genuine desire to steer a new course. However, with Gove tipped to lead the UK’s conference this year, fears that the UK government has turned its back on tackling climate change may come to light.