I came across this essay in one of my favorite monthly magazines, Orion, a few years ago. Rereading it today I was struck by how deeply I connected with it now that my own children are reaching the “why?” age of life. In the essay Sandra Steingraber, an accomplished environmental writer and ecologist, describes her stuggle with telling her children about climate change. She likens the climate change talk to the “sex talk”, as one of those moments in parenting that are important and very difficult.
Her essay raises an important point that can be applied to teachers as well, and that is the fact that children are asking about climate change at home and in school and we need to be prepared to answer those questions. These moments are teachable moments, that can’t be glossed over with giving them a book or telling them it isn’t something you’re ready to talk about. These answers make the issue more scary and more intimidating. The quesion also should initiate an conversation that is ongoing, not just one time, and finally it should be a conversation that your child or students can continue to have even if you don’t have all the answers.
To hear Steingraber’s interview about the essay; Sandra Steingraber: Talking to Kids about Climate Change September 25, 2008