How do we teach young people about climate change?

SCI Researcher Catherine Walker was invited to the PGCE GREEN conference “Climate and Environmental Justice in Education: what’s at stake?" to give a keynote speech on learning about the climate crisis from young people in migrant families.

Illustration by Maisy Summer

The conference kicked off with the first keynote from high school English teacher and activist Matt Carmichael on "Climate change: What's at stake in high schools? And what can we do?".

Catherine then spoke about her ESRC-funded Young People at a Crossroads project. She wanted to specifically investigate migrant families' experiences of climate change as they have had to rethink practices and adapt to a new context upon moving to a new country. 
Migrants from the some countries in the Global South often already experienced the effects of climate change in their home country, which made hearing their experiences all the more important.

"I feel it would be nice to have like different perspectives from different countries as well, you know, not just our own [...] I feel like people would have like a different perspective of the world around us, not just Australia. And [we can] learn from different countries." - Akos, Melbourne

A number of outputs such as the 'Creative Project Book' for students and 'Educator's Guide' have been published in recent months and are available for download here

The Educator's Guide explains how a whole school approach to climate change is both necessary and possible & takes you through ways of initiating a whole school approach, so that educators working across subjects can teach on climate change effectively & confidently. 

It presents spark ideas for working with the YPAC creative book. They are adaptable to different year levels, subjects, and curricular contexts, and will easily ignite your own ideas. Whilst written for secondary schools, this guide can be adapted to primary schools.

Her main takeaways are:

  • "How can you bring a focus on climate justice into your classroom?"
  • "How can you do this in a helpful, empowering & action-oriented way?"
  • "How can you work with students, colleagues across subject areas, and management to achieve this?"

Illustration by Maisy Summer.