Opinion: Alberta’s Draft Curriculum Should Prepare Students for Climate Change

The Alberta Council on Environmental Education (ACEE) convened a working group with Alberta Tomorrow, GreenLearning, Alberta Youth Leaders for Environmental Education students, and other partners to conduct a comprehensive review of the draft K-6 curriculum on these topics. . The group’s hopes for a strengthened modern curriculum; one that sufficiently equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the significant challenges of climate change and other human impacts on our environment, was undeliverable and needs review.

Research compiled by the North American Association for Environmental Education and Stanford University found clear evidence that environmental education provides a variety of benefits to students, including improved academic performance and the social and emotional benefits of learning in the wild, somewhat which was even more evident during COVID. . Recent Alberta youth survey and focus group The research provided further evidence of the urgent need and demand of students for this education: More than two-thirds of our young people agree that climate change should be a high priority in schools. As one student put it, “… we don’t know how we can help, and then everyone keeps telling us ‘Okay, find out.’ But we don’t know how to solve it… ”.

If students are to be prepared for the complex and challenging problems that await them in the future, they will need to be instructed, in an interdisciplinary way, about the global threat posed by man-made climate change, as well as acquire the skills and agency to be part of the solution. As Sasha Adamova, a tenth grader in Calgary, has said, “[this] education is essential, now more than ever, if we want my generation to grow up with hope and full of ideas for the future ”.

The sketched group recommendations for the draft K-6 curriculum and focused on three subject areas: science, social studies, and physical education and wellness. Jennifer Janzen, CEO of Alberta Tomorrow, points out a missing fundamental principle of environmental education, “… a strong emphasis on the fact that all of our actions affect the air, water and wildlife. Our actions affect biodiversity, climate change and the resources on which our economy depends ”.

The group identified the following recommendations:

  • Increase educational opportunities that prioritize environmental solutions and encourage students to take steps to equip them with the skills to address these complex problems and give them hope;

  • Less focus on knowledge and more emphasis on skills, attitudes and behaviors that are an integral part of environmental education, such as critical thinking and systems thinking;

  • Increase cross-disciplinary or cross-disciplinary learning opportunities to ensure students understand the interconnections of Earth and human systems;

  • Ensure that indigenous perspectives, especially for environmental issues (land connection, kinship and stewardship, land reclamation, ecological restoration) are provided as comprehensive learning, not just add-ons;

  • Emphasize learning in nature / outdoors in all grades and subjects not only in physical education and wellness to improve academic performance, personal well-being, social skills development, ecological understanding and participation in learning.

Kathy Worobec of ACEE stated: “We appreciate the efforts made to add some of the content described in the Curriculum for a sustainable future in the draft curriculum, but it was scattered across all grades and omitted some of the basic principles, specifically that humans are a part of nature and that we rely on Earth’s systems to provide clean water, clean air, soil healthy and a climate that makes this planet habitable for humans. “

Let’s all make sure Alberta Education offers a better K-6 curriculum so that Alberta’s more than 700,000 students are prepared for their future, a future where they will face many challenges as they strive for reliable and affordable energy, a healthy environment. and diverse and economic prosperity. . And most importantly, give them hope for their future.


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