"When you're learning math, why not learn about a carbon audit or an environmental issue?" Blumstein asked. "Students can learn about projected climate-change scenarios, what acidification is and the effects of pollution. Teachers and schools can develop all kinds of creative, integrative educational experiences."
Specifics should be left to local communities, Saylan said. He and Blumstein do not seek to micromanage what schools should teach at various grade levels.
Blumstein and Saylan have both participated in Earth Day events since these events began back in 1970, and they have been disappointed to see that over the ensuing decades, the Earth's environmental problems have actually become worse.
"This generation of young people and the next generation to follow will have to solve a lot of environmental problems," Blumstein said. "That is why K education is so important. We are facing one of the largest collective action problems humanity has ever faced, and we need to give students the skills to solve them. Education has to be an important part of the solution to environmental destruction; we have given the generation in school and those that follow big marching orders."
"Neighborhood recycling programs and plastic bag bans are great but unlikely to save us from serious impacts of global climate change," Saylan said. "Actions must be commensurate in magnitude to the problems they are intended to mitigate. Environmental education must nurture the social awareness and engagement necessary to convert words and ideas into measurable action."
Blumstein and Saylan recommend teaching critical thinking. Environmental education must be accountable "we will need to know which teachers and programs work and which do not," Saylan said it must be integrative and it must quickly permeate our schools, the
|Contact: Stuart Wolpert|
University of California - Los Angeles