This week, Zaqiya Cajee, SwopItUp's Founder, was part of the Big Climate Teach-In's 'Teach the Future' panel discussing “How can I make sure this is taught in my school?” - Looking at the issues of why it is important to teach about climate change in education and how to find your voice.
Big Climate Teach-In was a 5 hour event packed full of loads of inspiring eco ideas. You can check out the full event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6Pzzt9d9yY - Whizz to 4hrs 42mins to see just the 'Teach the Future' section if you like!! Here's a summary of the key points:
Anjali Raman-Middleton began the conversation by explaining her experience in school of when her geography teacher told her that “the only effect of climate change that we would experience would be warmer summers.” This started Anjali’s journey of climate activism, particularly around education, as it showed that teachers are not informed enough and are therefore uncomfortable talking about “the biggest crisis of our generation” to the 68% of students who would like to learn more. She continued by saying that the limited education students do receive is based in science which poses the danger of making arts and humanities students become apathetic towards climate change, and may believe that there is nothing they can do, demonstrating that the education system, as it is, is failing many students in this regard.
Zaqiya spoke next. She followed on from Anjali’s point explaining that, although learning about climate change in terms of science is important, it is not enough. Zaqiya explained that despite being told about many of the damaging effects of climate change and that something needed to happen, she was not told “what exactly we need to be doing”. She said that, although education is designed to prepare students for their future, it does not equip students with the tools to “prepare us for what our future is actually going to look like”. She went on to discuss what schools and students can do to improve, such as bringing in meat-free days, or rules on plastic use. Zaqiya said that she’s “running for environmental officer next year” and encourages students to try to find their voice within their school by being “a part of an environmental council”.
Chloe Hawryluk continued by explaining that climate change education is important to give people the knowledge they need in order to make the necessary change and help others. She stresses the fact that the people affected the most will be those with less privilege, and so those with more should attempt to use that privilege for good. Chloe describes the difficulty young people may face in this due to the “stigma around young people” but if young people continue to use their voice, educate others, and fight for what they believe in, adults will begin to listen and “realise the seriousness” of the situation.
The panel ended with each participant giving a closing statement. Anjali Raman-Middleton said that we must “keep pushing” because “something is going to happen eventually.” Zaqiya Cajee left with the message that we must “speak up” because “if you don’t speak up you can’t expect anyone else to” and once you do “a load of other people will back you”. Chloe Hawryluk told listeners that “no matter how small the change is, you need to be resilient and realise you are making the world a better place.”