What school teachers and headmasters can do

Teaching resources

Our Cool School

Australian schoolkids and teachers are lucky. They have a great website www.ourcoolschool.org to tap into with learning activities about sustainability, environment and climate change. The site has a great teacher’s resource base.
A website like this ought to be copied and translated into many languages so children all over the world could get involved in this way.

The Guardian Teacher Network

The Guardian Teacher Network, its Environment section and Earth Hour website are rich with resources, interactive multimedia, videos and picture galleries to help you plan your next green lesson. Here are their pick of the best:



Did you hear about the “sustainanator”-idea from Geelong East Primary School in Australia? (If not, listen here). Could that be an idea which other schools would like to replicate?

The Geelong community radio show The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Puls is calling all schools and ‘sustainanators’ to send in audio files presenting good ideas within the field of sustainability and schools. If you have an idea which has worked well in a primary school – and which the world ought to know know about – then send an e-mail – or even better: an audio-file recorded on a iPhone or a smartphone – to: The Sustainable Hour


Geelong’s five star sustainability school
Join ‘The Sustainable Hour’ for a visit to Geelong East Primary School where we talk with principal Karen Chaston, teacher Kirra Dyer, and ‘sustainanators’ Bianca Grima and Jade Telfer about what a sustainable school looks like:
Calling all schools and ‘sustainanators’



Universities’ green guide

– an inspiration for @Deakin or for @GeelongCats?

Here is a guide which consists of nine chapters that address key areas for sustainability at universities. These range from laboratory design to managerial and organisational aspects.

The guide can either be read comprehensively from beginning to end – which will give the reader an integrated picture of how to work with sustainability at universities – or the reader can choose to focus on specific areas and individual chapters. Each chapter consists of five elements:

• Introduction, outlining why the theme is important.

• Challenges and opportunities, presenting some of the key factors to address and giving suggestions for important approaches and tools.

• Hurdles and solutions, outlining suggestions and providing inspiration for key questions about the area.

• Cases, showcasing actual examples from IARU universities, and rated in difficulty from 1 (very easy) to 5 (very difficult).

• Quick tips, further reading, and links for where to find more information

» Download the guide (148 pages, PDF):

» Article: www.climatenewsnetwork.net

Small Green Steps

Small Green Steps is a cost-effective online sustainability resource specifically developed for early childhood education and care services in Australia.

» www.smallgreen.com.au

One-stop guide to climate change
Not sure where to start? This interactive guide is a hexagonal spider map which will help you find your way around this labyrinthine issue and answer many of the burning questions orbiting this hot topic. Covering everything from science and politics to economics and technology, your class will be able to delve deeper into all the subjects covered by the issue.

World temperature map since 1880
2012 was one of the top 10 hottest on record. But was it a freak of nature or the tip of a slowly melting iceberg? Engage your students in a debate on climate change, exploring the facts and data surrounding the topic, using this animation displaying a progression of changing global surface temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2012. The map clearly shows global surface temperature in 2012 was +0.55°C (1F) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 base period average, despite much of the year being affected by a strong La Niña. What does your class think could have caused this rise in temperature?

National carbon calculator
Ask your pupils to play UK prime minister and give them the tricky task of cutting our fuel guzzling country’s carbon emissions by 80%, but still providing enough electricity to meet demand. The calculator, which allows students to set policy on energy, transport and other sectors, may have originally been created to tie in with the 2010 general election, but it’s still a handy tool to use today, engaging the class in mathematics and political debate.

The big melt video
News stories and documentaries about melting ice caps are worrying, but tales of crumbling glaciers thousands of miles away can often leave pupils feeling cold. Sometimes, seeing is believing and this fascinating video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows how the Arctic ice retreated over the summer from April to September 2012.

Weather memory bank
Talking about the weather is a national pastime in the UK. And we’ve had more than our fair share of storms, floods and snow drifts this winter to keep us chatting until summer finally decides to arrive. But is our weather any worse than it was 10, 20 or 50 years ago? Engage your pupils in a discussion about Britain’s infamously unpredictable weather by joining a national initiative that seeks to explore and record people’s meteorological memories, especially those associated with extreme weather events in the recallable past. The scheme is particularly interested in the way in which memory and experience influences understanding of climate change issues. Pupils can add to this memory bank by interviewing their parents and grandparents.

Scepticism and climate change
Is global warming an inconvenient truth or green wash propaganda? The data in favour of the climate change argument is certainly compelling, but there are some in the scientific community and elsewhere who remain sceptical about the topic. This Teacher Network resource, suitable for citizenship students aged 11 to 18, explores the role, if any, scepticism should play in debates over climate change.

Countdown to Earth Hour
From games teaching children about cleaning the world’s oceans to an online activity book packed full of great ideas for lessons on the environment, the official Earth Hour website has plenty to keep your class busy. It’s also an ideal place to source inspiring videos and pictures related to the campaign and find out how your school can get involved.

Source: The above text was published by Guardian Professional, posted by Matthew Jenkin on 19 March 2013 under the headline Count down to Earth Hour with lessons on climate change.

Edutopia: Go Green

Edutopia’s Green Teacher’s Resources “shares evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.” — “Explore our ever-expanding trove of environmentally conscious teaching tools. Search for lesson plans, web sites, and educational resources by topic, grade level, cost, or location.”

» edutopia.org/go-green

How universities are going green

A “green“ revolution is taking place in schools, colleges and universities all around the world. The need for a more sustainable future, it seems, has finally made it from public discourse to action, environmental measures and improvements being implemented across campuses in many different ways. The infograph below shows some actions taken by US colleges and universities to green their campus and position themselves as leaders in the era of sustainability thinking. Inspiration for universities world-wide?

Source: ig.master-of-education.org/green-universities.jpg


» KWKT – 19 March 2013:
Local schools saving money using solar energy systems
Waco schools have installed solar panels onto their buildings to generate energy. And, the added sunlight helps put money back into their budgets.

Denmark first country in Europe to train graduates in climate change

“Climate Change, Impacts, Mitigation and Adaptation” is the name of a new 2-year interdisciplinary MSc programme at Copenhagen University that combines both natural and social sciences. Instruction is in English and there is space for 60 international students when the first class begins in September 2013. Deadline was 1 April 2013.

“University of Copenhagen launches an entirely new international climate change programme that will qualify students to address climate issues from the frozen Arctic in the north to tropical Bangladesh further south. Unique about the Climate Change programme is that it will formally abandon typical disciplinary boundaries between the natural and social sciences. It will teach students to tackle interdisciplinary complexities. This means that up-and-coming graduates will have been trained in, among other things, geophysics, geography, social-economic affairs and security policy. In this way, graduates will be trained to operate and work among a broad range of issues while still being attuned to local conditions, whether abroad or in a Danish municipality.” 

» Read more: science.ku.dk/english

» MSc in Climate Change, Impacts, Mitigation and Adaptation

» Politiken – 31. marts 2013:
KU udbyder uddannelse om klimaforandringer
Danmark bliver det første land i Europa til at uddanne kandidater i klimaforandringer.


» NPR (American public radio) – 27 March 2013:
A Hot Topic: Climate Change Coming To Classrooms
Now, for the first time, new nationwide science standards will recommend that U.S. public school students learn about the climatic shift taking place. By Jennifer Ludden

Battling Climate Ignorance Through Education

The only way to truly combat Climate Silence is by ensuring that all school children are universally taught that humans share a good deal of responsibility for the mess that we are currently in right now in regard to global warming.

But given the millions of dollars expended each year by fossil fuel proponents to spread doubt through climate denial propaganda, and to attempt to derail environmental causes, laws and policies, it is an ongoing battle that must be fought and won at every turn.

Well, we certainly have a long way to go, considering that our shared “environment” encompasses the entire planet, and non-compliance by one nation — especially the larger industrial nations — can nullify gains made in other countries regarding support for aggressive measures to combat global warming.

Such a wordly view of environmental education dates back to international accords by the United Nations in the early 1970s that called for “the development of environmental education as one of the most critical elements in an all-out attack on the world’s environmental crisis.”

Over the succeeding decades, that international call to action only intensified as UN leaders called for a concerted effort by both schools and communities to adopt environmental education materials to inform children at a young age so that when they reached adulthood, they would use that knowledge to properly analyze environmental problems and “facilitate their participation in environmental protection.” (UNESCO 1997).

While such international doctrines always sound good on paper, they don’t always materialize so magically without consensus among leaders to move forward with such bold and progressive action. And now, as climate change continues to worsen, we must all take heed of these 40-year-old commitments and ensure that they are implemented. If we ignore what our world leaders so eloquently preached back in the 1970s, we may simply run out of time and miss our small window of opportunity to effect positive change and reverse the dangerous and irreparable consequences of global warming.

I do have good news to report this evening on the educational battlefront in the US, which plans to unveil new federal science teaching guidelines later this week. These new principles will provide instructors with a uniform, consistent and accurate way to educate our children about how humans contribute to global warming through their greenhouse gas emissions. Called the Next Generation Science Standards, the main thrust of the curriculum will be in eighth grade science and will be implemented in up to 40 states. Some will be offering the studies to students for the first time.

However, the new guidelines are not mandated, and 10 states are not part of the effort. Also, each state must then translate the much broader standards into lesson plans aligned with other instructional material. Teachers also have to be trained, and money to build such instructional mastery is certainly in short supply right now.

Along the way, opponents await in the shadows to try to sabotage the well-vetted effort.

The new standards have already been subject to heated criticism from those conservative factions who feel that students should be taught that there is another side to the debate.

Leading the charge is none other than the Heartland Institute, which is heavily funded by fossil fuel interests — including the industry’s poster boys, the Koch Brothers. You might remember from an earlier column posted last month that these oil magnates will stop at nothing to bankroll efforts to thwart any efforts to limit our deadly addiction to fossil fuels.

My burning question: with 99.8 percent of the nearly 14,000 scientific studies supporting Man’s role in Climate Change, what debate might there be in the role teachers should have in educating our youth about the environmental calamity that lies ahead if we do nothing to change our evil ways?

While the argument continues on the US mainland, our colleagues in Britain are actually taking a big step backward in their refusal to mandate such science in the class. The country’s key education department is proposing to strike it from the books, and leave only a mere singular mention of the critical topic during a chemistry lesson.

Luckily, several teacher and parent groups have railed against the plan, while some students have stood up to challenge the proposal.

UK education leaders should take the lead of their neighbors in the Nordic and Baltic countries, which created a Nordic Climate Day a few years ago to forge inter-country cooperation on the important subject. Such a concerted effort is now showing good momentum right here in the United States. China, India, Brazil and the other large industrialized nations need to follow suit and lead the way globally — thereby living up to the Stockholm Declaration mapped out by the UN during the infancy of the global environmental movement.

We all need to broaden our scope to ensure that we win the battle over our children’s education, on every continent.

Please pay close attention to the education battle in your own city, to ensure it becomes part of the established curriculum. If it is not, it is time to roll up your sleeves and push the local school board and legislators to make it happen. Stay apprised for more on this important topic. And in the meantime, stay involved.

Tom Mays

» GrassRootsEarth – 9 April 2013:
Battling Climate Ignorance Through Education
The only way to truly combat Climate Silence is by ensuring that all school children are universally taught that humans share a good deal of responsibility for the mess that we are currently in right now in regard to global warming.


Alex is eight years old. He is just beginning to understand the issues. The other week, his dad helped him produce this little video about his experiences after they had been attending a rally against fracking:

» alex.aidt.co


IDEAS For Us is non-profit organisation, accredited by the United Nations, advancing sustainability and environmental awareness through campus and community action.

The mission of IDEAS is to educate, engage and empower people of all ages with sustainable solutions through research, action and awareness.

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