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CC-EDU - Simplify climate change education for better communication in elementary and lower secondary school


Climate change education is a troublesome theme for a number of reasons (John Oversby / Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences 167/2015). It is cross-curricular which demands negotiation between discipline-based teachers, timetable and syllabus commitments that constrain opportunities for teaching.

The discussion on climate change is filled with a wide spectrum of viewpoints, some in direct opposition with one another.The nature of climate change education is such that complexity is at the science core, while teachers are required to simplify. At present, this is a small aspect of other science teaching, and teachers require change and support to provide effective teaching.

The fact that climate change may be viewed on local, regional, and international levels — not to mention through scientific, civic, and cultural lenses — provides students with the opportunity to develop critical analysis skills and ability synthesize information.Though interdisciplinary education requires more work, it also equips students for the problems and discussions they’ll face outside of the classroom (deniers of the phenomenon, misinformation, indifference, fear…).

Pedagogies are required to ensure that the simplifications remain faithful to the science while not overwhelming the students. On the other hand, for some students (and their families), climate change science is seen as controversial, and makes it very distinct from other areas of science. It is not enough to simply teach students about the science behind climate change; students also need to learn how institutions and individuals deal with problems of this scale, and how they fit into that larger picture. As long as schools have a responsibility to teach global citizenship and community stewardship, they have reason to teach about climate change.

Climate change education provides an important window into individual and societal responsibility, making it relevant for all partners involved and a global urgent matter. There is no need to mention global polices on the matter and the global movement to bring the topic a priority at any level and in any field. As educators, schools not only have an interest in teaching subjects that will prepare students for careers and earn them good test scores, but to teach them to be mindful citizens. Teaching on climate change means teaching on topics like environmental stewardship and collective responsibility — teaching students that they and those around them have a responsibility to something larger than themselves.

The purpose of the CC-EDU project is equipping students (such as the next generations) in having a holistic perspective over climate change and learn about collective responsibility toward environment protection and prevention of further damaging situations. The aim of the project is preparing teachers to deal with the complexity of the topic, making it factual and with a view on local, regional, and international situations, using different approaches.

Many teachers are unprepared for the integration of action and content knowledge that characterises climate change education, especially those in science where subject knowledge tends to be more factual, thus dealing with this constitutes a new need for teachers.

Through the CC-EDU project, schools have an opportunity to teach their students to evaluate a variety of evidence and draw their own conclusions. If students are to leave school and tackle issues head-on, they can’t do so without understanding how to use information and balance opposing viewpoints.

The possibility for offering more targeted support to help teachers develop competences, enhances the quality of teaching in general (School development and excellent teaching for a great start in life COM(2017) 248 final). A holistic, individualised and young-people-centred approach is crucial for keeping the interest of young peoplein any topic, on climate change in particular.