“Climate change education requires building a shared culture among teachers”

A teacher and her students sit in a field during an outdoor lesson in contact with nature in Clave, February 4, 2021.

Anne-Françoise Gibert, in charge of studies and research at the Institut français de l’education, believes that there are no costs involved “in the disaster register” in climate education.

According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released Monday April 4, there are still three years to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. Where do we stand in this alarming context with climate education in the French school system?

The subject moves on. The High Council on Programs was contacted in 2019 to strengthen teaching on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development and two circulars on education for sustainable development were issued in 2019 and 2020. The Terminale Générale Scientist curriculum gives priority to climate and energy. The official texts say that students are called to be agents of ecological change and schools to be role models. The settlement of companies “in a sustainable development approach” (E3D) in 2013 or that of eco-delegated students in classes from CM1 in 2019 contribute to the change in the school system.

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However, the reality varies greatly from institution to institution. In order to be activated, these mechanisms must be the subject of significant investment in the form of communication, mobilization of staff or implementation of partnerships. Furthermore, it is not certain that all teachers are familiar with these texts and systems, especially if they do not directly relate to their subject. And yet, climate issues are not the preserve of life and earth sciences or natural sciences teachers, they touch on a range of issues that can be covered in most subjects.

What are the special features of climate education?

Climate change is a hot, societal and scientific issue that is a source of controversy. What is the best way to deal with the current changes? What decisions are to be made? There is no easy solution and knowledge is built. In this regard, several pedagogical practices are proving fruitful. The involvement of students in a survey process is particularly suitable. In doing so, they position themselves as seekers of information, in order to identify the different types of existing knowledge and the positions of the different actors.

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