For those of you who are not teachers in British Columbia we currently have new curriculum drafts that have been put out for teachers to test and review. There is a lot of good intent with the new curriculum: more space for teachers to explore content on a deeper level, the focus on big ideas instead of small prescribed outcomes, and a push towards personalized learning. I really like this and the new focus towards personalized learning could be a really good thing – as long as we don’t forget to teach about compassion and community alongside.
Now for a variety of reasons we try not to get too “political” here on the blog and although we definitely have strong opinions we like to focus on the journey we are on more than the circumstances we are in BUT today I need to talk about the new science curriculum that’s been put out – and it won’t be sugar coated…
Remember back when I said I didn’t like teaching science? Well a lot has changed since then! In those first weeks of my fall contract I got to teach a unit about Water Systems on Earth and I began to love it for a variety of reasons, namely my students loved it and there was room for creativity and problem solving. I care so much about taking care of each other and the earth, and I was able to let this show in the unit. But even more importantly than that is that students care! They understand about the environment, they care about the environment, they are invested in their own futures, and they want to make a change.
When we learn about the environment we make connections to ourselves, connections that make the content come alive.
So if that is what I saw in my classroom, and that is what my colleagues see, than why is that missing from the new curriculum? Why is the most important, engaging, relative material being cut? Why, in times of environmental crisis, are we being told that learning about the environment is not important enough – that it’s not a “big idea”?
In the skills section, the new curriculum states students are to consider environmental impact, and I have heard the argument that teaching this skill will mean that environmental education is MORE embedded. I don’t buy it. If it is not specifically in the curriculum it might not get taught. If it takes a back seat to cell theory and plate tectonics it is not made a priority. If environmental education is not spelled out in our curriculum it is too easy to forget about. And if the aim is to move towards integrated environmental education then this would appear throughout other curriculum areas and not just in science.
We cannot afford to wait any longer to make changes. In BC right now, we have some MAJOR environmental~political issues happening – Is this connected to the new curriculum? I can’t say myself, although I have my speculations. What I do know is that if we sit back and let this change happen, then we all lose.
Environmental education is arguably one of the most important topics we can cover in current times. Students love it and are engaged. Teachers enjoy teaching it. This is a need, not a want. The world needs it.
How do you incorporate environmental education into your teaching?
Any other thoughts on the new curriculum drafts?