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Green Education – More Than Just The 3 Rs

Green Education – More Than Just The 3 Rs

Writing about the strength of the Eco-Schools movement in England last month, I indicated that schools in the U.S. do virtually nothing to educate their youngsters about green living.

It seems I was wrong, as numerous Care2 supporters let me know! And just yesterday, a piece in The New York Times entitled “Teaching Green, Beyond Recycling,” by Mireya Navarro and SIndya N. Bhanoo, describes a whole new, 21st century approach to the green curriculum. The article leads on the Green School in WIlliamsburg, Brooklyn, where the students are encouraged to move beyond typical green topics like recycling and tree planting, and to explore local issues such as contamination of waterways like the Gowanus Canal, water quality and polluted air.

This same approach is echoed in various schools across the country, including the Environmental Charter High School in Los Angeles, where environmental education refers to a curriculum “that extends learning into the local environment so all students graduate with the knowledge values and skills to become lifelong learners and quality stewards of their community – a community where magic happens,” as their Mission Statement states. Alison Suffet Diaz, the founder of the school, explains that the focus on environment is especially important in poor communities that are disproportionately affected by problems like contaminations from industrial sites.

Thus, the green curriculum movement in education, having embraced the 3 Rs of reduce, reuse, recycle, and worked to green its buildings, is now moving to add grassroots activism. And surely that’s a good thing – to have students study their local environments, and delve into the socio-economic impact of decisions made in their communities. At other schools students come to understand how the local environment affects food choices, or how to promote waste-free lunches at their school, once they discover that the average elementary school generates 18,760 pounds of lunch waste per year – a
veritable mountain of trash.

It is hard to gain a reliable estimate of how many schools, public or private, have made environmental education a part of their curriculum, especially since, unlike the English model, they do not share uniform programs and standards. Still, the Green Charter Schools Network, based in Madison, WI, has counted around 200 green charter schools nationwide, while the Green Schools Alliance (GSA), based in New York City, has a membership of 1951 schools, most of them in the United States. According to their website: “We encourage all schools – public, private and independent – to sign the Green Schools Climate Commitment and become global leaders in their own communities.”

Twenty years ago, environmental education in the school where I taught meant the opportunity to get away from the classroom for a few days and explore the great outdoors, with the aim of bringing the students to an understanding of the natural world, and thus giving them a reason to care for it. The recognition that environmental education can and should begin in your neighborhood is a great addition to that concept, and means that the green education movement is thriving in U.S. schools and moving forward to embrace the 21st century. And that’s exciting!

HAITI INFORMATION AND ACTIONS

INFORMATION

How to Help Haiti

Long-Term Health Problems Facing Haiti After Earthquake

Haiti in Chaos After Earthquake

Help Haiti: a Day Without Pay

Pat Robertson is Going to Hell 

Rescue Dogs Sent to Haiti from Around the World

Haiti After the Quake + How to Help

Animal Victims in Haiti Need Your Help

PETITIONS:

Haitian Earthquake Has Destroyed the Capital City   Mercy Corps

Haiti’s reconstruction by Haitians living aboard     For these noble goals, we ask that the government of the country in which we reside to task our pay check $10 per pay period for the next 50 years so that we can rebuild our dear Haiti.

Pat Robertson: APOLOGIZE

Support the UN’s Response to Haiti Quake Victims United Nations Foundation

Honor UN Peacekeepers in Haiti  Better World Campaign

 

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saizamix at MorgueFile.com
Judy Molland

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38 comments

+ add your own
6:46AM PST on Jan 25, 2010

thanks

6:37AM PST on Jan 25, 2010

Noted thanks

11:19PM PST on Jan 23, 2010

This is great news! Thanks for the article, Judy.

12:41AM PST on Jan 17, 2010

thanks for sharing

3:39AM PST on Jan 16, 2010

good post- interesting

9:32AM PST on Jan 15, 2010

ty for this post

4:01PM PST on Jan 14, 2010

what a wonderful idea - great thanks

7:28PM PST on Jan 13, 2010

This inspiring article makes me feel good and gives me hope for a better future for Mother Earth. Thanks. Enviro-ed should start in pre-school and continue through graduation in my opinion.

4:08PM PST on Jan 13, 2010

Great to hear this - and so encouraging to see the massive yes vote for ecological education in schools - in a sane world of course it would not be a 'topic' it would be the basis of everything

10:04AM PST on Jan 13, 2010

thanks for the great article.

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Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
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