Wednesday, 20 March 2013

We Don't Need No Education...

Ah, so this is where I left it...

Greetings, and apologies for the massive delay since my last blog post. I would like to be able to say that the gap was the result of some horrendous illness or maybe a non-fatal accident, but really it's down to being overly busy and over-estimating how often I'd be able to sit and compose something halfway legible about climate change.

But here we are, and apologies dispensed with it's time for a punchy little post about education.

Michael Gove

Sorry, I had to stop typing for a moment there as I involuntarily shudder whenever I think about that man. Let's refer to him as he-who-must-not-be-named

Sorry, I had to stop typing for another moment there as J.K. Rowling's solicitor was on the phone. Nice chap.

Right, so the rubber-featured man-baby that is in charge of Education in England and Wales has been in the press this week for suggesting that climate change isn't really all that worthy of a place on the syllabus if you are under 14. The mind boggles, just as HIS facial features do in a gentle breeze. Surely, surely, surely, being a Minister in the "Greenest Government Ever" ((c) D. Cameron) he would think that climate change - which is a pretty pressing issue, all things considered - should be introduced to the minds of the young from an early age? I mean, there are so many pluses to this:-

(1) Basic societal change - if you teach children something at a young age, they are likely to stick with it in adulthood. Children can also teach adults stuff (crazy, right?) and may ask parents to justify behaviour that they, the children, have been taught to be incorrect.

(2) Basic educational worth - there has been the development, in Scotland, in the last few years of Curriculum for Excellence. Now while this is much-criticised by some (many) in the education sector, it does at least have the laudible aim of introducing topics which cut across several subject areas, making lessons more holistic in approach. This would seem to promote a 'deeper, narrower' learning approach as opposed to a 'shallower, broader' approach.

(3) Future technological advancement - Technology is a phenomenal tool in the task of mitigating the impacts of climate change. And if children are not exposed to this at an early age, surely their ability to think of innovative responses at a later, professional, stage in their lives will be stunted?

Sarah Lester agrees:-

"The negative implications of removing climate change in this way from the curriculum is that we face the threat of creating a generation of students who do not understand the issue and who are unwilling to reduce their energy demands or emissions. By not educating children on this topic and the potential behavioural responses we risk not having the public support to meet our legally binding target of 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In my opinion the Government will undermine a generation of young people and lessen the impact of their voices calling for environmental responsibility and global action on climate change." Daily Telegraph, 19th March 2013,

The DfE argues that the topic would still be taught at GCSE level in Geography or Chemistry, but this fails to consider the fact that at this stage children are selecting topics with a view towards future careers - so would not automatically have the exposure to a topic that has pretty grim significance for all humans. A basic understanding of the facts of climate change shouldn't have to be earned alongside details of the process for refining petrol, or glacial movement in 1960s Switzerland.


On another note, because I promised last time, let's have something positive to dispense with the doom and gloom.

This might raise eyebrows a bit but hey ho. Highland Councillors have indicated approval for a massive windfarm (up to 339 turbines and covering 11 square miles, making it one of the largest in the world) in the Outer Moray Firth. It is estimated that this could generate up to 1,500MW of electricity and power up to 1 million homes. As Scotland has a population of approx. 5,250,000, this would be a significant step towards 100% of Scottish electricity need being met by renewable sources (although with a proposed completion date of 2020 may be cutting it fine to meet the Scottish Government's target of 100% generation by 2020). Whether you love or hate windfarms, from a climate point of view this is good news, and good to see Scotland providing genuine leadership to the world on this fundamental area.

Imagine what would happen to Michael Gove's face if he stood beside 339 wind turbines going full pelt - it'd be like a lava lamp.

Challenge to all who read this - do something sustainable this week. Whether it's get the bus one day rather than drive, or make a point of making a meal from local ingredients (by which I don't mean ingredients purchased locally, but ingredients which originate from local sources - so the 'Greggs' down the street from your house doesn't count).

Take it easy, and I promise it wont be so long before I post again.

Pete of the Trees

1 comment:

  1. Michael Gove is a knob. CfE is a noble attempt at broadening the remit of schools to create well-rounded individuals in future generations. Understanding the planet we live on and the environment we inhabit is a critical part of that. Pillock.
    Great blog :)