Education is key to addressing climate change – from helping learners understand how environmental challenges are shaping our world to equipping them with the skills to take action. Here we look at key resources to support teachers to bring climate action into the classroom – all available from the British Council’s Climate connection programme.
In 2020, UNESCO surveyed 15,000 people globally, to gain insights into the most pressing challenges facing societies, and ways to address them. While climate change and loss of biodiversity was seen as the single most pressing issue, education was seen as the most effective solution, not just for climate change, but for seven of the 11 challenges highlighted.
Indeed, it was Nelson Mandela who said ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,’ and while most educators would agree, taking the first step to exploring global issues in the classroom can be a challenging prospect.
English Language Teaching expert, Christopher Graham, believes that teacher support is the main barrier to effective climate education. Speaking at the British Council’s recent Conversation for Change panel session, he said: ‘schools need to encourage advocators and challengers [so] there is a huge desire around the world for teachers to integrate climate issues into their classrooms. Their challenge is they don’t know how to, and they don’t feel they have the resources to do so.’
To support teachers on their journey to bringing climate action to the classroom, the Climate Connection is providing both school and language teachers with free, practical and engaging resources to support them, whatever their knowledge or experience.
Bringing climate action to the classroom
The following resources and professional development opportunities are a great way for teachers to build their own knowledge of climate issues, engage learners in the climate conversation and strengthen existing climate-related work already happening in their school or language learning centre.
As a starting point, teachers can join a free, online course to build their understanding of current global challenges such as climate change, develop an informed response, and discuss ways to bring these issues into the classroom. Learning for a Sustainable Future is a five-week (three hours per week) course where global educators come together on a journey to learn how to live more sustainably and support their students to contribute to a more sustainable future.
Discussing and sharing ideas with other practitioners can be a great way for teachers to increase their knowledge and build their confidence to teach about environmental issues. Education Exchanges are free, online global panel events (taking place via webinar) where education practitioners from around the world can develop ideas, share great practice and inspire each other to find solutions to shared challenges. Topics include how schools can go carbon neutral, climate change and girls’ education, and climate change and language learning. Recordings of all past sessions are available.
To support teachers to embed climate change into their lesson planning, Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning offers a host of classroom resources for exploring environmental issues and inspiring climate action. Packed with engaging activities, these ready-to-go templates cover topics such as protecting the diversity of life on land and below water, tackling air pollution, how to power the world with renewable energy, and how to reduce our carbon footprint. They even include tips for collaborating with overseas partner schools.
An essential listen for language teachers (and anyone interested in the relationship between language and climate change), the Climate Action in Language Education podcast series explores the role of language and the language teaching community in the climate fight. Through discussions with leading academics, researchers and practitioners, the series explores themes such as empowering young people, ‘green pedagogy’, the language of climate change, addressing climate change through teaching and learning.
Climate Language in Education also offers a host of lesson plans for language teachers catering for all ages, from primary to adult, covering a range of environmental issues. They are designed with flexibility in mind, can be integrated within existing curricula and are available in two versions, for classroom-based lessons and online teaching.
We also recommend school and language teachers to explore the Climate Connection’s growing pool of resources and activities, such as posters and competitions, as we continue to support teachers to engage learners in the climate conversation – up to and beyond COP26.