Climate Literacy in Schools
By Nancy Sanchez
On November 2nd Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Board (SMMUSD) approved a climate literacy resolution proposed by Santa Monica High School’s Team Marine. The resolution by Team Marine requested “age appropriate discussions” in elementary schools while advancing the criteria for deeper discussions of climate issues in secondary schools, as quoted by Santa Monica Daily Press. The Team Marine proposal focused on allowing District teachers to provide hands-on learning with students by having guest speakers, environmental films and various research projects. By students gaining an environmental education in school they can create their own climate actions in their lives and their community.
Past CASM Climate Corps member Maya Williams, who is also a part of Team Marine, participated in the push for Climate Literacy. She had this to say about Climate Literacy and future plans. “I think for a long time, climate literacy has been somewhat neglected within the climate movement because of the lack of instant gratification: we can calculate and track the immediate changes in emissions when a corporation or entity shifts from fossil fuels to clean energy, for example, but it’s a bit more difficult to measure the impact of educating our students on the topic of the climate crisis and the subsequent ripple effects of their climate education. But knowledge is power, and as a member of Team Marine, I’ve consistently been able to see how students that are informed on the climate crisis tend to be more motivated to take climate action and become civically engaged citizens out of concern for their communities and their planet. Nobody is going to get involved in a cause that they know nothing about, and so if our goal is to have students and young people that are more engaged not only in the climate movement, but also in the fight to create a better world, we need to start allocating the time and resources that are necessary to make climate literacy a priority in our classrooms.”
Nancy Sanchez, one of CASM’s Climate Job Corps fellows, offers this perspective: “As an environmental anthropologist, I believe climate literacy in schools is essential for students to understand their relationship to nature by addressing hands-on learning that can be applied to the world around them. Students should have an understanding of basic climate concepts and apply them to their own lives. This is just the first step of many to educate the current and next generation to mitigate climate change.”