Educating the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders
Learning about the environment is an important part of growing up; after all, today’s children will be tomorrow’s leaders who will shoulder the responsibilities of protecting the earth.
As children are highly inquisitive beings, nature provides an ideal learning environment in which they can thrive. Concrete first-hand experiences like outdoor walks, gardening, playing in mud, and observing animals around them are exciting and can benefit their development. Research also shows that nature can reduce anxiety and fatigue in children, restore their attention, and increase physical fitness.
As children grow older, instilling a growth mindset of initiating and welcoming change can make them more environmentally sensitive. The concept of global citizenship, where communities are no longer confined within geographical or political borders and are, therefore, concerned with the world’s biggest challenges, is now being integrated more significantly into international curriculums, such International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge.
The objective is to make students aware of issues affecting the environment and lead the change for sustainable development. This could mean that they are being more responsible in their daily consumption, motivating and educating their family and friends, and/or initiating community projects.
Activities like simulating the United Nation, organising beach clean-ups, and meeting government ministers are also done in schools to develop students’ ability to think critically about global issues.
At home, parents can help to get their children started. Activities could include:
1) Allocating a recycle bin to separate waste
2) Growing vegetables
3) Supporting local farmers and/or buying local products
4) Not buying items that are not needed
5) Maintaining household products through cleaning and responsible use so they last longer
To take this concept further, the #MYEarth campaign aims to educate children by encouraging a series of eco-friendly activities to raise awareness about the environment. This will be done through social media platforms to enable everybody to share about their projects.