Sunday, Feb 04, 2024 09:00 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Feb 04, 2024 03:18 [IST]

Climate change in Classroom


Few days back, I was discussing with my students about biodiversity and ecological crisis with reference to extinction of >160 species and > 38,500 species in the verge of extinction and explaining the anthropogenic activities such as pollution, overexploitation of natural resources and habitat destruction leading to disruption of biodiversity. While discussion was going on, one of my students requested to curtail the discussion because we would need only selected notes to cover environmental science. Then I tried to enquire whether they are interested to know about adverse impact of climate change on human being. Promptly they answered “no” as this was not covered in their syllabus. Then I realized that these destructive practices are practically facilitated by a lack of knowledge and respect for the environment, which is ultimately caused by inadequate environmental education.
 Surprisingly, the students frequently state that the greenhouse gas emissions are the most effective on the global climate change. They know very well the main causes of global climate change such as deterioration in the ecosystem, environmental pollution, human consumption, water consumption, depletion of natural resources, forest fires and air pollution.
Despite knowing the causes of Climate change, the students do not have any idea of its increasing impact on a global scale and especially in the last few decades, suffering of all humanity from the effects of sudden floods, storms, tornadoes that cause great destruction, drought, and food crisis. In this piquant situation, raising students’ awareness and making changes in education policies regarding this issue has become an important agenda item in the field of public policy. Now environmental education is increasingly finding a common focus in addressing climate change issues.
At present, the problems we are facing due to climate change require new solutions. Exploring the problem area effectively is critical for creative problem solving. Therefore, people who know the problems of the world, understand them and are sensitive to the problems of the world must be trained. The people who will take the lead on the environmental issues of the future will need adequate experience in improving the environment. Now there is emergent need to train the students in such a manner so that they can think critically, question and criticize. At this point, working with students may be a good choice because these children are likely to be in roles that can take important responsibilities in making our world a more liveable place in the future. Developing students’ creative and critical thinking skills is the key to their general cognitive development and intellectual development. Therefore, one way to improve students’ skills is to establish a learning environment based on critical thinking skills.
Many are pushing for schools and colleges to add climate change to their curriculum. Indian Prime Minister recently said there is a need to include "climate change adaptation policies" in the school syllabus. Unfortunately, India currently has no curriculum on climate change, but some aspects such as sustainability are taught under environmental studies, which is compulsory in schools and colleges, but existing teaching methods do not address the scale of the problem. The secondary school science standards have minimal references to climate change and teachers on average spend just a few hours a year teaching it. Thereby instead of relegating the topic to a separate textbook, there is a need to integrate it with existing subjects so that it runs through the entire curriculum. The environmental curriculum focuses more on nature and outdoor education but does not touch upon how human actions contribute to climate change or how students can actually combat it. Moreover, including climate topics in school curriculum is critical for training the next generation of innovative thinkers that can become champions of climate action at local and international stages.  
With increasing urbanisation and advances in technology, students' exposure to the natural world has decreased. Though scientific developments provide a more comfortable life for future generations but global problems will also challenge future generations in many ways. Once the students are familiar with global problems, they can bring creative solutions to these problems by approaching them critically. That is why school-age children need to face and think about the problems that are happening on a global scale as much as possible. Teaching about climate change is of utmost importance for India as it is expected to experience rapid population growth and urbanisation in the coming decades.
If students are aware of the consequences of unsustainable growth, they are likely to adopt a more climate-friendly lifestyle. Simultaneously they learn to plant trees and make projects out of recycled products as they discuss changing weather patterns and the social and economic aspects of their relationship with the environment. Automatically they will learn the fundamental of climate science, including the role of human, the consequences of a changing climate as well as solutions. Understanding this critical issue will make them realise that individual actions can help to protect the planet.
For this purpose, a valuable teaching strategy to be used in the education of students is problem solving. In order to solve problems, students need to improve their thinking and creative skills so that children can tackle real-life examples and future problems can help to develop integrated and creative thinking. Because the purpose of education is not only to be able to understand the subjects in the curriculum, but also to develop thinking skills and analyse a problem through meaningful learning. Our age requires students to be able to ask questions, to think critically, to use technology correctly and effectively, to be good problem solvers and creative individuals. Taking courses to develop critical thinking in children increases their creativity and indirectly leads to an improvement in their academic performance.
For this reason, education without prioritizing the development of thinking skills is like a ‘pillarless palace’.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi