Why this topic matters
The Climate Crisis is the biggest issue of our time. According to Teach the Future, 68% of students want to learn more about the environment, yet ¾ of teachers feel they haven’t received adequate training to educate students about climate change.
Climate Crisis education is not just about teaching the science of human-induced climate breakdown. It is also about teaching the skills and values young people will need to build a more sustainable, compassionate and flourishing future in the face of this crisis.
Connections to the curriculum
- English: choose a Class Reader from this list of books on climate and the environment
- Maths: use Climate Crisis data to teach statistics, to plot and read graphs or to predict future trends
- Geography: discuss the human impact of the Climate Crisis by looking at case studies of natural disasters
- Science: explore fossil fuels, global warming and energy topics through the lens of the Climate Crisis
- Religious Studies: Relate the way in which we should react to the Climate Crisis to the Golden Rule - a teaching which is common throughout all major religions
How to approach this topic
Explore this topic in a safe, supportive environment where students can ask questions, share how they feel about the crisis, and learn to manage these emotions. Teaching about a current and escalating crisis inevitably provokes anxiety among students, but it is still important to be honest about the urgency of the Climate Crisis so that young people are properly informed. Teaching young people that not every question has a definitive answer – and that this does not have to provoke anxiety – is a valuable lesson in itself.
Help your students to channel their anxieties into positive actions - an important skill both for mental wellbeing and for becoming an active citizen. Showing positive examples of countries, organisations, or projects that are effectively addressing the Climate Crisis, as well as exploring how students can take action themselves, helps reduce feelings of powerlessness, isolation and anxiety. This is also a great way to teach increasingly important skills in leadership, responsibility, and cooperation.
Explore how the Climate Crisis intersects with other global issues to encourage students to think critically and laterally; it helps students to understand the Climate Crisis as an issue for human rights, as well as for the ecosystems humans are part of. When describing intersecting global issues, try to avoid placing blame on individuals, focusing instead on the problems within the larger systems these individuals are part of. This encourages a more empathetic, less simplistic, and therefore more realistic and practical understanding of the Climate Crisis.
Provide relevant skills:
Skills such as critical thinking and empathy are increasingly crucial to empower students to decipher the truth of the information they encounter, and ensure they become well-informed and compassionate global citizens. By teaching young people the importance of values such as sustainability, equality, and collaboration we can help build a future in which these values are implemented throughout society.