Absolutely. Like many other educators I was quite shocked to read that Tim Oates, a government advisor reviewing the national curriculum, is suggesting climate change is dropped in the new curriculum.
Climate change will affect all of us, including those in the developing world. Students should be made aware that people in developing countries are currently hardest hit by climate change and of it impacts on global poverty, by making floods in Bangladesh even worse for example. In addition they also need to be aware of how it could affect them directly if we do not act soon. Practical Action recently produced a tube map to show which areas would be underwater by 2100. Images like this help students understand the effect climate change could have on their future lives, and the lives of their children as well as those in their global community.
It is vital that our future scientists and engineers have an understanding of how climate change will affect all of our lives. Chris Hume, the energy secretary recently stated the need for green skills in our future economy, and understanding the link between sustainability and climate change is vital for this. Teaching children about climate change shows them how science relates to the real world and about connections between subjects. Linking scientific concepts to topical, global issues also makes science more interesting for students. In our response to the national curriculum we stated how important it was that students learn about the nature of science, how scientific knowledge is constantly evolving and the importance of discourse. The ‘story’ of climate change is a really interesting demonstration of that, which helps get students engaged and interested in science.
In addition to nuturing new scientists and engineers is is also important that our science education develops a scientifically literate population. An understanding of climate change is going to be vital to this. The next generation need to understand what climate change is and what we can do to meet the challenges it poses.
If you feel as strongly as I do that climate change should stay in the curriculum please go to http://peopleandplanet.org/navid12439 and sign the email petition.2 Comments » | Add your comment
Our founder Fritz Schumacher believed that even small things could make a big difference to people’s lives. We think so too, so to celebrate his centenary year we have designed a poster to get school students thinking about what small things they could do to make a difference, to their community, their environment and to people in the developing world.
- taking toys to a charity shop so they can be loved all over again
- growing your own vegetables and buying locally sourced food
- refusing to use products that use lots of packaging
- volunteering to help in your local community
- repairing your bike when it brakes; and
- join Practical Action’s energy campaign
There are 90 ‘things’ on the poster and space left for students to add 10 of their own. Divided into the 6Rs of Reduce, Refuse, Recycle, Rethink, Repair, Reuse this FREE large A1 poster is sure to be popular with teachers and students.
Why not try some of our small ideas yourself ?No Comments » | Add your comment
Have you ever had that feeling when you are at a conference, that ‘I just don’t get it’ feeling? Well that was the feeling I had for most of my day at the Education 2011 conference in Westminster.
I had heard Christine Gilbert Chief Inspector, Ofsted say that teachers basically teach what is inspected ‘If it’s in the school inspection framework then teachers will teach it’, which made me think maybe Ofstead is effectively setting the curriculum in schools.
Then we heard from Jon Coles, Director General Education Standards, Department of Education say that there will be a clear division between the National Curriculum, what teachers are required to teach, and the school’s curriculum, which includes all the ‘other stuff’ which schools will teach because it is the right thing to do, so no need to prescribe it. The ‘other stuff’ includes what many of us feel is an essential part of a child’s education and helps develop students into the young people we want to have in our society – creative, empowered, well balanced young people with a good understanding of other cultures and religions and who understand global issues related to poverty in the developing world and how they can play a part in addressing that.
It seems incredibly naïve to think that eliminating subjects, such as citizenship, that develop students understanding of those issues from the mandatory requirement will not have an impact on the priority that is given to them in schools. Indeed, already not including RE in the subjects selected for the English Baccalaureate has resulted in a drop in the recruitment of RE teachers in secondary schools, schools are simply not prioritising it as a subject choice at GCSE.
Then there is the whole idea of free schools. Again I just don’t get it. Why is the Government prioritising funding to schools that will supposedly be set up by parents and teachers (only a handful have been so far) but that won’t be required to teach the National Curriculum, a curriculum it is putting in place as a basic entitlement for all children in maintained schools.
It was heartening to hear that others else didn’t get it either. The general feeling I got chatting over coffee and lunch was that the new policies were not just unpopular but that there was a real concern over the future of education in this country.
Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary of State for Education certainly didn’t get it either. With regard to free schools he said it was a plan for some schools for a few children, not all schools for all children and that the funding for its implementation was draining vital resources from other schools. Speaking to him after the conference he said he was concerned that the current Gov would reduce the breath of education our young people will receive. He feels that being given the opportunity to learn about global issues and ‘creative’ subjects such as music and drama is important in developing important life skills and rounded young people. When I explained to him how Practical Action includes a global learning element in our STEM resources he enthusiastically agreed that such resources will be even more important now that citizenship will no longer be subject in the national curriculum. He even suggested I contact him to discuss further and gave me his business card. Don’t worry Andy – I will be in touch!5 Comments » | Add your comment
Today was a real treat for me. I got to see lots of groups of 12 to 13 year old students taking part in the Squashed Tomato Challenge, a challenge inspired by my visit to Nepal a year ago. The students were doing the challenge as part of a day organised by the education team at INTECH in Winchester. They had been told about the problem faced by farmers in Nepal, that of transporting tomatoes down a mountainside and were designing model systems that could help solve the problem.
As Robin Barclay, one of their teachers said to me ‘the students are really getting involved, it’s great to see them working together and coming up with solutions. It brings in the sustainability angle as well which is so important now in everything we teach.’
Their designs were measured on how many tomatoes they could transport in two minutes, reliability of the system and ease of operation. Points were deducted for dropped and squashed tomatoes and any human ‘intervention’ that took place to make the system work.
Mrs Webb, the students’ science teacher thought the activity was ‘fantastic’ because it showed them how they could relate what they learnt to a real life situation. She told me how they had completed a unit on forces recently but until now didn’t see how that could be applied.
As for the students when I asked an excited Vienna Dale how her team got on she said ‘We did amazing, we moved about 20 tomatoes and only squashed two. It was hard though having to think of a design that would work and get the tomatoes down in quite a short time’
Students working hard but enjoying themselves and finding out about technology used by Practical Action ….that has to be a good thing if you ask me!!
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…..and think about how closely you agree with the statement ‘I should only eat food grown in my country ’ was something the President of the West African Farmers Federation ( ROPPA) was asked to do at the kick off meeting for a new EC project on African Agriculture called EuropeAfrica2.
Along with about 20 other attendees he took part in an activity called a belief circle. Designed by Practical Action Education it will be one of a number of educational activities to raise awareness of how food choices we make in Europe affect farmers in Africa. It’s a three year project and Practical Action will be working with partners from Belgium (VECO) and Italy (Terra Nova) to produce material for schools which can be adapted to fit the needs of a number of European countries.
A belief circle can be used to stimulate discussion on a number of issues related to international development including sustainability in engineering. Looking at the enthusiastic response of the president of ROPPA it certainly stimulates engagement!No Comments » | Add your comment
Practical Action Education has put together a response to the National Curriculum Review. We believe this is a really important opportunity for us to have an input into what the curriculum of our future generation will look like.
Our overriding wish for the outcome of the review is that through all subjects and at all stages the curriculum should be framed as if all people including those in the developing world matter.
The review asked specifically for us to comment in what concepts and principles (rather than specific knowledge) should be in the science, maths, and English and PE curriculum. We commented on the science curriculum in particular and put forward a strong argument for sustainability to be an integral part of science teaching. Sustainability provides opportunities to help students gain insight into the link between their actions and the lives of others in the South. It is also something both parents and students have identified as important.
To find out more please read our response to the National Curriculum2 Comments » | Add your comment
What motivated me at the show was all the teachers and educators I met who couldn’t wait to tell me how much they loved our teaching resources and could we please continue to produce more or the same. Teachers like Sue Taylor, a science co-ordinator for Woodrush High School. She told me that she had found about the squashed tomato challenge from an email we send her after she signed up at the show last year, and that she was going to do it as an activity across the school with all the year 9s as part of a STEM day.
Dharmesh Walji a D & T teacher from couldn’t stop raving about the Sustainability Matters CD Pack and how it has helped him teach the sustainability part of his course. When I told him we were re-vamping the D & T are of the website to make it easier to use and adding more resources he practically jumped for joy!
Then there were two new teachers, who talked to me when they came to the show last year as students. They told me they loved our stuff because it enabled them to help children understand that science can be used to help people in developing countries as well as here.
These are just a few examples of people who until they came to the show last year had not heard of Practical Action but are now actively integrating our material into their work in schools. With over 900 more teachers signing up to our newsletter at the show this year we can be sure the message is spreading and our impact will continue to grow.
Now that’s motivating!!No Comments » | Add your comment
If hoards of kids excited about science and engineering is your idea of fun then The Big Bang Fair in London last week would have been right up your street!. Over 21,000 students took part in the three day event which set out to inspire the next generation of students and engineers.
Many of the stands had hands on activities to engage students. One such stand was run by the fair’s major sponsor IBM. In order to get a ‘science passport’ students had to take part in six activities around the stand. Two of these were Practical Action’s activities, the wind power challenge and the power bike. It was great to see the students having so much fun and really getting into the tasks.
I took part in the careers zone where students were able to find out about the range of careers science and engineering could lead to. When I spoke to them about what they wanted to do many students were keen to do ‘something’ that could make a difference such as stop climate change from happening in the future. It was really heartening to hear so many students being keen to be part of making a more sustainable future a reality.
The teaching resources we produce in the Practical Action education team are designed to encourage students in that direction . We believe that the only way we will secure a sustainable future and help end world poverty is by getting our values into the to the hearts and minds of the next generation. We aim to inspire more students to be like the amazing Shawn Brown who won UK The Young Engineering Student award 2010 for his sustainable solar powered bamboo bike.
The national Big Bang Fair is moving to Birmingham next year and there are a number of regional fairs taking place this summer. If you get the opportunity to get involved yourself ( they are always in need of volunteers and it’s great fun honest!) or can encourage students to join in then I would highly recommend it.No Comments » | Add your comment
Teachers, parents, school governors and organisations such as ours now have the opportunity to be part of the review of the new national curriculum. If you fit into one of these categories then you could make a difference to the future education of the next generation.
The current Government thinking is that there should be a major shift to a more knowledge based curriculum. Over the last few months you may have heard about how the Government feels it is really important that children learn the capitals of countries and know who Churchill was. Most people who are involved in education (by that I mean teachers not Government ministers) would agree that knowledge is of course important but needs to be taught within the context of a skills based curriculum. We want students to develop the skills that will enable them learn, to be able to problem solve and to think creatively in all subjects.
Another change if the proposals go ahead as they are is that the number of subjects in the curriculum will be thinned down. One of the casualties is likely to be citizenship. This is currently a mandatory subject and one in which students learn about how they fit into the bigger picture as a global citizen. Students discuss the very issues that Practical Action care about such as how best to help people get out of poverty and what action they themselves can take to make a fairer world for all. Removing this from the curriculum will severely reduce our ability to get our messages across and to have a positive impact on the next generation.
If you want to make a difference to the lives of the next generation of students now is your chance. Please go to the Department of Education’s website and put your views forward. Consultation ends April 14th.
Thank youNo Comments » | Add your comment
There is real concern that sufficient progress is not being made at the UN climate change talks in Cancun. If things don’t take a serious turn for better we coudl reach the situation where by 2012 (when the first period of the Kyoto Protocol ends) there will be no international, binding agreement with regard to climate change.
One thing that has been agreed upon however was put through with the help of over 100 young people around the world from various youth groups including the UK Youth Climate Coalition. Their slogan ‘No decisions about us, without us.’ must have hit a chord.
Article 6 ensures that ‘education for sustainable development is supported, especially outreach by youth nongovernmental organizations. The policy also ensures equity, sustainability and opportunity to young people and women from all backgrounds and cultures’.
Helen Marsh, Practical Action’s climate change campaigner is at the talks
‘It’s fantastic to see real progress on the issue of climate change education here in Cancun. In fact, this is the one area where Parties are showing real ambition and flexibility – accepting all of the asks put forward by the youth delegation and achieving a decision in a record-breaking 90 minutes! Let’s hope this sets a strong marker for other areas of the negotiations in the remaining few days’.
So Mr Gove, when you sort out the details of the new curriculum please do take note of your colleagues in the UN and ensure sustainable development has its rightful place at the heart of our British education system.
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