Formation - 7 June 2019

en - Transforming education?

Maybe there has been a school strike for climate somewhere near you. Children and young people are walking out of lessons all over the world, from an estimated 1,600 towns and 125 countries. They say to us adults, `you are stealing our future’. They are not alone, many join them, many young people are involved in the Sunrise Movement in the USA demanding a Green New Deal, Extinction Rebellion, a non violent campaign for civil disobedience, is thriving in the UK and many other countries too ; some young people are suing companies and governments. They have courage and determination. It is having an effect ; young people are forcing world leaders to act on climate change and environmental degradation. Parents are being asked by their children in the recent European elections, to` vote green’. `We are missing lessons so that we can teach you one,’ a banner read a we walked the streets of London surrounded by young people and their handmade placards - `Time is running out’ `March now or swim later’, ` Climate action is my homework - overdue !’ `Don’t be a fossil fool !’. Planet over profit’, `What on earth are you doing !’. They want truth, they want climate change and the social consequences of this to be prioritised in schools and colleges. They want action at all levels. There is enormous energy and creativity.

Pope Francis told Greta Thunberg, the young initiator of the school strike movement, to `carry on’ ! We know from Laudato Si and follow up meetings with oil executives and ministers and climate experts that he knows what is at stake. Cardinal Turkson at one such recent meeting talked of `an unprecedented threat to civilization’ and the` powerful interests hindering a meaningful collective response,’ they are being challenged by the children.

For educationalists, teachers and parents the question is looming what will be needed by the next generation when climate chaos really kicks in, what tools will they need for resilience and adaptation, if and when economics and business change to a simpler circular model as required, and when agriculture becomes agroecology. It will be a very different and difficult world, not business as usual, perhaps simpler, so what skills will be needed. The children `get it’, `start to act like children !’ read one placard’ They know it is a climate and environmental emergency now’, they are teaching us and we need to listen, and act. But also how can we help them prepare for what is coming ? How can we prioritise understanding of this unprecedented emergency and concentrate on what needs to be done now and in the future.

Jess r.a. June 2019.