“Knowledge empowers people with our most powerful tool: the ability to think and decide. There is no power for change greater than a child discovering what he or she cares about.”
― Seymour Simon in a speech about global warming read on the National Mall for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, 2010
There is no more appropriate quote to begin my final blog, which has documented a most momentous occasion in my life, as well as the lives of my students, their peers, and our planet. I have recounted story after story to my students and my fellow teachers since returning from Paris, and although their points of interest are all different from each other, there is a genuine interest about what happened, what did the decision really mean, if anything, and how can we keep the ideas going? In my school, the main drive is to bring the other teachers on board with spreading the word. You know, it really is as simple as putting some climate information into their work or as a writing sample. But we have to create the environment ( ok! no pun intended, really! ) where our students care. We have to step aside from the standardized tests and include what we know is morally correct; we must take that leap of faith ourselves, because it’s just that important, and if not done, just won’t feel right.
As we work to globalize our students culturally and equip them with 21st-century skills that will allow them to be contributing citizens of our world, it is important to remember that sometimes our students are just beginning to learn that it is ok to have an opinion; developing culturally and climate change-minded students isn’t going to happen overnight. So my first action is to encourage this awakening! Students at my school have already expressed an interest in a community garden and are currently researching the best ways to accomplish this. They want the school to look at some green alternatives and reform some of the current policies. When I was getting ready to board the plane for the 10 hour flight home, I received a tweet from a student who commented that, while it was fantastic that the agreement had been reached, “what are we doing at home?”
So the grassroots movement, however small at the moment, has been seeded; the students are reaching out. On a larger scale, I have re-evaluated some of my current ideas and thought processes and am now looking again into solar power for my home. I want to work with some local businesses on green roofs and will be practicing that idea on a much smaller scale on our storage shed, in anticipation of someday greening the roof outside my classroom. Can you imagine looking out over city rooftops and seeing greenery instead of roofing? How grand and relaxing would that be?
That last day in Paris, the ideas that we touched on in our final educators meeting were amazing, and I am certain that we will develop some type of joint follow-up project or goal. I am hoping that it will be with respect to our students, and that we can bring this continued knowledge and commitment to them as well. After all, as was the trend in many of my blogs, our children are the biggest hope for the success and continued forward motion of the COP21 goals. We must get them excited; we must find a way to encourage and nourish their excitement and enthusiasm. We must show them it is ok to take a stand. And so, on that final note, I will share with you my very first step that I will take. I am planning on submitting a letter to the editor of our local paper on the importance of climate change education and literacy. I will show my students that they can take small steps or big steps – the most important thing is that they take steps.Thank goodness for our children.