etamCliTeaching aboutchangein Irish Primary Schools
Contents1. Why teach about climate change?. 32. Key elements of climate changeeducation. 53. What might climate change educationlook like in a primary school?. 64. Climate change education in action. 85. Useful links.106. Bibliography.112
1tuobahcaetWhy?egnahcetaclimEvidence is mounting that climate change is one of themost pressing threats to human, animal and plant lifeon earth.The Intergovernmental Panel on climatechange (IPCC) concludes that ‘warmingof the climate system is unequivocal, andsince the 1950s, many of the observedchanges are unprecedented over decadesto millennia. The atmosphere and oceanhave warmed, the amounts of snow andice have diminished, and sea level hasrisen.’ These changes have resulted in anumber of detrimental effects on life onearth. Weather patterns have become moreerratic and more extreme, with typhoons,droughts and floods severely impacting onvarious parts on the globe, and in particularon vulnerable people and communities.Ireland, too is at risk of the adverse effectsof climate change, which may lead to a risein sea level, more intense storms, morerain, increased flooding, water shortagesin the summer (particularly in the east ofIreland) and changes to the plants andanimals.The effect of climate change on plantsseverely threatens the ability of humansto grow and source food, and places otherspecies at a risk of extinction, disturbingnatural eco-systems. The consequences ofclimate change will have particular impactson the lives of children and young people.Research indicates that climate changefurther represents a threat to the rightsof children. Children will be at greater riskof injury or death during natural disasters,their right to education compromised inthe associated emergencies and their rightto health and development underminedby the effects of climate change. Thisrisk makes climate change an issue ofintergenerational justice. If temperaturescontinue to rise at current rates, species willbecome extinct and weather will becomemore extreme, directly placing human life indanger.Climate change does not affect everyoneequally. Those who are poorest andmost vulnerable, yet have contributedthe least, are most impacted. It has beensuggested that climate change needs tobe foregrounded in education and to beapproached from different perspectivesacross the curriculum. Traditionally, issuesaround climate change have been exploredthrough subjects such as science andgeography. However, calls are increasingfor a cross curricular approach to theissue. Research suggests that teaching3
and learning about climate change shouldinclude not only scientific knowledge andunderstanding, but also a more holisticcitizenship-based education. Climatechange concerns personal values andrequires collective action, systemic reformand innovation. Climate change educationtherefore involves developing learners’ skillsand aptitudes to enable critique, solidarity,political engagement, ingenuity andopenness to change.The enormity of the climate changechallenge can be overwhelming, creatinga ‘head-in- the-sand’ reaction. Exploringlearners’ feelings and acknowledgingtheir fears and emotions is therefore anessential element of effective climatechange education. Such education needsto empower learners to take action andsupport decisions which minimise thecatastrophic effects of climate change.Knowledge, skills, values, feelings andactions are all key components in teachingand learning on climate change.It is imperative that action is taken quickly.Political developments in recent timeshave suggested a backwards shift towardclimate change denial and a “business asusual” approach, despite the mountingevidence of the harmful effect of climatechange, and the best efforts of a numberof governments and civil society groupsto raise awareness about and combat theissue. In the face of the United NationsSustainable Development Goals, whichplace a considerable focus on climate andthe environment, progress is worryinglyslow.The reality of the threat of climate changehas been evident for 40 years now, and it isincumbent on all with a voice to lend theirstowards action. At a time when the Irishprimary curriculum is undergoing reform,it is vital that all efforts are made to ensurethe holistic inclusion of climate changeeducation therein. Not only is it a matter ofscientific and historical enquiry, but also amatter of justice. Concurrent to this is therisk that climate change poses to those whocome after us.This document aims to put forward a wholeschool and community model for climatechange education, which is cross curricular.It aims also to serve as a useful andpractical tool for both educators and policymakers, in the context of curricular reform,to meaningfully include CCE into curriculaand teaching, both implicit and explicit.IF TEMPERATURES CONTINUE TO RISE AT CURRENT RATES,SPECIES WILL BECOME EXTINCT AND WEATHER WILL BECOMEMORE EXTREME, DIRECTLY PLACING HUMAN LIFE IN DANGER.4
2fostnemeleyeKegnahcetaclimeducation?This table outlines the development of key knowledge, skills and values which arecentral to climate change education.Knowledge andUnderstandingSkillsValues and AttitudesSustainabledevelopmentCreative and criticalthinkingConcern for theenvironment andcommitment to sustainabledevelopmentHuman RightsCo-operation and conflictresolutionBelief that people canbring about changeGlobalisation andinterdependenceAbility to managecomplexity anduncertaintyRespect for people andhuman rightsPower and governanceInformed andreflective actionCommitment to socialjustice and equity5
Creating a culture of climatechange education at class,school and community levelLearnerThe individual learner can explore climate changeand imagine ways in which we can tackle it, throughreading and researchClassAt a class level, climate change canbe explored across the curriculum,and solutions developed anddiscussed togetherSchoolSchools can take collectiveaction to explore and combatclimate change through arange of projectsCommunityCommunities can make connectionswith schools and other groups tosupport and collaborate in ClimateActionSee page 8 for explanationof examples7
4egnahcetaClimnoitcaninoitaeducThis school in Skerries created amural in their local community toraise awareness of the effects ofclimate change on communitiesaround the world.Choose books with an environmentaltheme and explore how these themesmay link back to climate change.Some ideas from junior class teachersinclude: The Call of the SeaWhat does it mean to be greenLitterbug DougThis class had a talk on how climatechange can affect biodiversity andput some species in danger, andways we can protect these species.8This senior class worked on a projectwhich explored how the emission ofCO2 is affecting the climate around theworld.
This class did a project on howclimate change is affectingdifferent species.One infant class made apromise chart where theythought of ideas for changesthey could make in their ownlives to fight climate change.This school grew theirown garden to seefirst-hand the effectsof climate change ongrowth, and to learnabout sustainability andsustainable growth offood.9
5Useful linksClimate change education, ainable-development/cceCreating Futures, Climate Change Education for Senior rimary.shtmlEducation for Global Citizenship: A Guide for oolsIPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:http://www.ipcc.chTrócaire Climate Change Education cation10
6BibliographyGibbons, E (2014) ‘Climate Change, Children’s Rights, and the Pursuit of Intergenerational ClimateJustice’, Health and Human Rights Journal, Vol. 1, No. 16, pp. 19-31.Gonzalez-Gaudiano, E, and Meira-Cartea, P (2010) ‘Climate change education and communication: Acritical perspective on obstacle and resistance’ in F Kagawa & D Selby (eds.) Education and ClimateChange: Living and learning in interesting times, New York: Routledge.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2014) Climate change 2014: synthesis report,available: R5 SYR FINAL All Topics.pdf (accessed14 July 2015).Kagawa, F and Selby, D (2010) ‘Introduction’ in D Selby and F Kagawa (eds.) Education and ClimateChange: Living and learning in interesting times, New York: Routledge.Kavanagh, R., Ruane, B., & Oberman, R. (2012). Education, Climate Change and Climate Justice IrishPerspectives. AERA Conference, April 17th, 1–37.Mary Robinson Foundation (2013) Climate Justice: An Intergenerational Approach, available: quity-Position-Paper-2013-11-16.pdf (accessed 14 July2015).Mochizuki, Y., & Bryan, A. (2015). Climate Change Education in the Context of Education forSustainable Development: Rationale and Principles. Journal of Education for SustainableDevelopment, 9(1), 4–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/0973408215569109Oberman, R. (2016), Creating Futures: 10 lessons inspiring inquiry, creativity and cooperation inresponse to Climate Change for senior primary classrooms, Dublin. Available at: ating-futures-full.pdfOxfam (2015), Education for Global Citizenship: A Guide for Schools, Oxford.Available at: y, D., & Kagawa, F. (2010). Runaway Climate Change as Challenge to the “Closing Circle” ofEducation for Sustainable Development. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 4(1),37–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/097340820900400111Waldron, F., Ruane, B., Oberman, R., & Morris, S. (2016). Geographical process or global injustice?Contrasting educational perspectives on Climate Change. Environmental Education Research,4622(December), 1–17. , N., Amann, M., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Belesova, K., Bouley, T., Boykoff, M., Costello, A.(2017). The Lancet Countdown on health and Climate Change: from 25 years of inaction to aglobal transformation for public health. The Lancet, 6736(17). https://doi.org/10.1016/S01406736(17)32464-911
Author: Fionnuala FlynnWith thanks to:Benjamin MallonSusan GallweyRowan ObermanLaura MaherSinéad MonganJohnny TyndallCaitriona Ní CheallaighCiara MooneyGlobal Schools: Primary Education for a Just World country level steering committeeGlobal Schools: Primary Education for a Just World country level expert groupDesign:Pixelpress.ieEimear McNally
change education. Such education needs to empower learners to take action and support decisions which minimise the catastrophic effects of climate change. Knowledge, skills, values, feelings and actions are all key components in teaching and learning on climate change. It is imperative that action is taken quickly.