Why schools need to start teaching kids about sustainability

Mar 7, 2020 | Sustainability

A Quick Summary

Going by the rapid climate change we are witnessing today, what we’ll be leaving for our future generations to face is unimaginable. It is ideal to mould students into being responsible and thoughtful citizens of this world. These young students will grow up to face a country reeling from major environmental problems. It is the schools’ duty to educate them about sustainability from an early age.

Here are a few ways in which schools can teach sustainable development:

  1. Forming habits early on: Children are impressionable, and often pick up on what they observe. When sustainable living becomes an everyday habit, they imbibe this into adulthood as well.
  2. Respect the environment: Respect for the environment and its safety is important to inculcate into children.
  3. Children teaching adults: If students learn the necessity of sustainability at school, they may extend their knowledge to their family as well. This increases contribution in individual terms, which is important as every effort counts.

Students are at their key learning stages when they are in school. Teaching them about the environment and about sustainability from a young age promotes responsibility and moulds them into responsible global citizens.

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Given the current climate crisis the world is facing, what do we need to prepare our students for?

This is a question that educators ask themselves (and each other every day). The fact is that we live in a world that is rapidly changing and the challenges our students will face in their workplace in the future will be based on problems we have not even identified yet.

Thus schools need to keep one eye on the future and another ensuring that we are giving our students strong foundational skills. If we are to take our crystal balls out and try to predict the future I think one very logical conclusion is that our students will be living in a world dealing with the issues caused by mass-scale industrialization. India, today has 7 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world and we still have a long way to go for our development. It is safe to say that future services and products will have to correct this course and thus it is imperative that we give our students a deeper understanding of sustainable living.

Thus teaching sustainability has not only become a requirement in schools today but is also synonymous with responsible citizenship. It is imperative that educational institutions teach sustainability through all possible aspects of life – be it through community living and agriculture to waste management and resource protection.

A few methods by which schools can teach sustainable development are:

Forming habits from a young age

Sustainability shouldn’t just be something that is taught, but instead something that should be inculcated into a person’s lifestyle. By putting these habits into the everyday lives of the kids, it becomes second nature to them. Young kids can be taught simple lessons like not wasting or turning off light and water when not in use, these are things that will become second nature to them in adulthood

Respect for the environment

Just as children are taught to respect their elders, they must also be taught to respect nature. They must be taught the value and importance of the environment and how we as humans can keep it safe.

Children can teach adults

What is learnt in school by kids is eventually transferred back to the elders – parents and family members, and can help drive the reverse education approach to responsible living, thus making an actual difference. The fact of the matter is that resources are limited, and like we balance our household budgets. We must balance our growth to ensure these resources are there for many generations.

This can only be done if the future generations are more conscious about their choices and have the concept of sustainable living rooted deep in them.

In conclusion sustainability development education must be practiced in our schools because its what our children need and what will help them be more responsible global citizens. It will continue to pass down to future generations.

After all, through sustainability development education, schools can be the real catalyst for change.

(This article is written by Rohan Parikh, Managing Director of The Green Acres Academy for India Today here.)

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