Greta Thunberg's speech made earlier today on Video (In English) LINK
From Extinction Rebellion
Speakers at the event will include Professor David Humphreys (Open University), Dr Anne Andrews (Cambridge University) and Dr Alison Green, who recently stepped down from her Pro Vice-Chancellor role to focus on full-time climate activism and who authored a letter published last week which was signed by over 200 academics in support of the Youth 4 Climate Strike.
From Extinction Rebellion
Teachers, supported by Extinction Rebellion, will be protesting at the Department for Education on Friday 22 February 2019 to demand that the climate and ecological emergency is made an educational priority. As it stands a student could easily go through state education and hear climate change mentioned in fewer than 10 lessons out of approximately 10,000. This will be a peaceful nonviolent protest that may involve non-violent direct action.
Gathering from 12, midday at Old Palace Yard, Westminster, protesters will march to the Department for Education for 1pm (20 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BT). Facebook event is here.
The Department for Education is not enacting the Paris agreement
A central plank of the protest is the fact that the Department for Education is not enacting the landmark Paris climate agreement – which the British Government signed up to – which states: “Parties shall cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change education.” (Article 12 Paris Climate Agreement)
There is currently no requirement nor any guidance on how to teach children about the climate crisis. Academies may not cover these topics at all, as they can be more selective about what they teach. One of the very few mentions of climate change in the National Curriculum for Science refers to the “evidence, and uncertainties in evidence, for anthropogenic climate change.”
Safi Yule, a 16 year old student from North London said:
“I was lucky my parents told me about climate change but I should have got more information from my school, which didn’t teach this at all. I wish schools would pay as much attention to issues like this, which will change my world as much as me getting my grades at exams.”
Tim Jones, a secondary school teacher and an organiser from Lewisham in London, said: “Climate and ecological breakdown will define the life of every child and student alive today. They and we are facing an unimaginable catastrophe. But when I tell my students, it’s hard for them to take me seriously when it plays almost no part in the content of their education.”
Ex-teacher and head of department, Oliver Hayes, said: “It is clear from scenes last Friday – with thousands of children taking to the streets in more than 60 towns and cities across the UK for the Youth Strike 4 Climate – that children are standing up and saying enough is enough. Worryingly, this emergency has been almost ignored in teaching, especially in state secondary schools. It is taught as a difficult, peripheral and distant issue. Students need to know not only the truth about what is happening to their planet but also what needs to be done about it.”
Letter to the Department for Education
Teachers for Climate Truth sent a letter to the Department for Education on 6th February asking for three changes to the curriculum:
That the ecological and climate crisis is immediately announced as an educational priority.
That well-founded and evidence-based training is provided for teachers to convey this message, including the scientific and economic causes of the crisis, what governments and society need to do about it, and also on how to support young people when taking on this information. This should be implemented by no later than September 2019.
An immediate overhaul of the current curriculum, in the light of scientific evidence and without political interference, aimed at preparing children for the realities of their future on this planet.
The Department for Education response notes that there is coverage of the science and processes involved in changing weather patterns and they mention a new Environmental Science A-level. This is not good enough: it comes nowhere near providing students with an understanding of the realities and implications of the climate and ecological crisis.
“It is incredibly important: if there are only 10 lessons on climate change, that is awful,” said Scarlett Possnett, 15, from Suffolk. “And there’s not a single lesson telling us how to address it. Our government knows the solutions and yet will not take steps to implement them.”
200 academics sign letter of support for Youth Strike 4 Climate
Last week over 200 academics signed a letter in support of the Youth 4 Climate Strike.  Noting some of devastating impacts of climate change, the letter states, “It is with these tragic and desperate events in mind that we offer our full support to the students – some of whom may well aspire to be the academics of the future – who bravely plan to strike on 15 February to demand that the UK government takes climate action.”
There are no better words than those of Greta Thunberg – the 16 year old Swedish climate activist who created the School Strike for Climate movement that’s rapidly expanding around the world:
“What is the point of learning facts when the most important facts clearly mean nothing to our society?” (More here.)
Alex Forbes, nursery teacher and Extinction Rebellion supporter believes:
“The government has failed our children, not only is there so little on the climate and ecological climate crisis, there is nothing on how to stop it, about the impacts of increasing consumerism and our throwaway society.“Schools are increasingly pressured to prepare students for exams, with little about the challenges of the real world. Due to government policy staff and students have to focus on tests and results, there is little rounded education.”
Dr Alison Green of Extinction Rebellion:
“Children should be taught about the connection between our way of life – including the economic and political factors – and the impact it has on the ecosystem in which we live, the consequences of this way of life for us and the planet. Climate and Ecology should be taught as a discrete subject and embedded throughout the curriculum.“Students should be taught, with adequate support, to think critically about the very real and significant ecological and societal problems of our times, and the possible futures that might ensue. Lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the Social Sciences need to be based on up-to-date evidence from reliable sources. While the curriculum needs to reflect the concerns raised in the IPCC reports, it must acknowledge that the IPCC, as a consensual body (including both scientists and politicians), has consistently underestimated the rate at which climate change is happening.”
Text of Extinction Rebellion’s Letter to the Department for Education
“To the Ministers and Employees of the Department for Education
6th Feb 2019
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told us last October that we have 12 years to radically change every aspect of society if we are to avoid disaster. Highly regarded scientists, like Peter Wadhams, have highlighted the political restrictedness of the IPCC and the glaring omissions and over-simplifications of its report. We must accept the likelihood that 12 years is a vastly over- generous window of opportunity. We have killed 60% of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish since 1970. Insect populations are collapsing, coral reefs are bleached and dead, natural disasters are worsening, crops are failing, forests are being felled or burning and forced migration is beginning.
“If we keep this information out of the public domain – out of schools, for example – perhaps we might avoid some awkward conversations in the years to come. We could say we never knew. After all, who wants to tell a child that, unless we make unprecedented changes to how we live, we are heading for societal collapse, famine, war and the increasing likelihood of human extinction? Telling the truth exposes us to the responsibility of facing it ourselves. Which is exactly why we must tell our children: not simply to inform them (many are far better informed than older generations) but also so that we can be held to account for our own actions. We must follow the example of the brave young people who will, on coming Fridays, be striking from school to demand truth and action.
“When we have had the evidence for decades, why does it amount to little more than a footnote in our national curriculum – a vague and marginal concern? Geography lessons cover the basic theory but in the national curriculum for Science the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is described as ‘uncertain’. The issue could be mentioned in as few as four Science lessons in the entire course of secondary education. In academies there may be no mention at all. If not in schools, where should the public learn about where our way of life is taking us? Power knows the value of ignorance. Our Government is increasing subsidies for fossil fuels while presiding over an educational system that effectively denies the consequences of such a policy.
“Imagine if we had the courage to make our schools places where students learned how to repair the damage we have caused. If we have the courage to act now they could be the ones to revive our dying soil, regenerate biodiversity and rebuild the ecosystems that sustain us. But we must act now. We must teach students more than just how to pass tests. We must give them the opportunity to discover what is wonderful and life-giving. And we must urgently equip them with the skills, insight and courage to face what is coming. To do otherwise is an act of criminal negligence.
The evidence tells us that any imagined future for which we are currently preparing our young people is a dream that will never be realised. The lives of every one of our children will be defined by the effects of climate and ecological breakdown. We therefore make the following demands:
“1. The ecological and climate crisis is immediately announced as an educational priority.“2. Well-founded and evidence-based training is provided for teachers to convey this message,including the scientific and economic causes of the crisis, what governments and society need todo about it and also on how to support young people when taking on this information. Thisshould be implemented by no later than September 2019.“3. An immediate overhaul of the current curriculum, in the light of scientific evidence and withoutpolitical interference, aimed at preparing children for the realities of their future on this planet.
“Please – because we love our children so much – let’s teach them the truth.
We await your response with due impatience and loving rage: firstname.lastname@example.org”