2811 Hosts Climate Educators Forum for U.S. Teachers
September 2020/The newly established 2811 USA team hosted 25 educators of various subjects from around the U.S. in our first Climate Educators Forum on September 12, 2020 to discuss the ways educators are teaching about climate change. The objective of this forum was to inspire and be inspired by the practices teachers are implementing in their classrooms.
During september 2020, 2811 USA hosted our first Climate Educators Forum.
The United States news in September was dominated by climate change stories, ranging from red skies and wildfires raging across the West Coast, to hurricane season wreaking havoc in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Within this context, the newly established 2811 USA team hosted 25 educators of various subjects from around the U.S. in our first Climate Educators Forum on September 12, 2020 to discuss the ways educators are teaching about climate change. The objective of this forum was to inspire and be inspired by the practices teachers are implementing in their classrooms. With a mix of presentations and workshops, the Climate Educators Forum illuminated the many ways climate change education is evolving across the country in various institutional contexts.
The speakers included:
- David Pavletic and Chloe Young (Illinois Youth Climate Movement);
- Lia Grippo (Wild Roots Forest School);
- Stephanie Leite and Aaron Moring-D’Angier (GCE Lab School Chicago);
- Nancy Metzger-Carter (Schools for Climate Action); and
- Isabel Rey Sastre (Teachers for Future Spain).
An NPR survey of hundreds of teachers across the United States asked teachers if they do or don’t teach climate change and why. The survey results showed that only 42% of teachers teach about climate change, while only 45% of parents talk to their kids about climate change. When asked to describe the main reason why teachers don’t teach climate change, 67% of respondents said that they did not think that climate change relates to the subjects that they teach. Another 17% said that they did not know enough about it and 17% responded they don’t have the materials they need to teach the subject. These results clearly show that expanding climate change education requires two things: 1) showing how climate change education can relate to any and all academic subjects and 2) teachers can and would teach climate change if they have the materials and preparation to teach climate change across subject areas. Clearly, there is a need for teachers to be better equipped to teach climate change, and 2811 wants to meet this challenge by facilitating teacher trainings that allow teachers to share knowledge and experience on teaching climate change.
One of the many powerful moments from the Climate Educators Forum was when Lia from the Wild Roots Forest School explained to us that young people need to fall in love with nature from a young age so as to love their environment and want to take care of it. She said environmental education that is centered around environmental crises is like going to couples counselling on your first date; without first falling in love, people won’t want to put in the effort to work on the things that need attention.
Hearing from two youth activists about their experiences learning about climate change in high school and what motivates them to take action inspired us to continue working with the next generation to find solutions to climate change. Chloe talked about the culture of activism in her school and how kids from all grade levels are coming together to take action and become agents of change, even at a young age. Chloe also reflected that she knew a lot of her teachers were passionate about the environment but hadn’t brought that love into the classroom, emphasizing the need to improve climate change curricula nationally.
Nancy Metzger-Carter, a teacher from Northern California, shared the Resolution Toolkit that brought her students all the way to Washington D.C. advocating for the U.S. Congress to take action on climate change and ensure its inclusion in curriculum. She emphasized the importance of bringing youth voices into the civil discourse around climate change education.
The results of the post-event survey show that participants are interested in learning more about climate change education and appreciated engaging in a space with other like-minded teachers who share their vision of a sustainable future. This was born from both the conversation spaces facilitated among educators in the forum, as well as the passionate presentations given by climate leaders, which gave insight to both the personal motivations of their work as well as the impact it has had on their students and global outlook.
You can watch the full recording at this youtube link.
2811 is launching a Climate Action Academy in November, an in-depth, 4-week teacher training program. Participants will be certified climate educators by Climate-KIC (the European Climate Innovation Community). If you’re interested in signing up for the Climate Action Academy, or if you think a cohort of teachers from your school and/or school district could sign up as a group (and thus receive a group discount), please reach out to Katie and she’ll send you more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).