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By Rosalind Wyatt
"I believe the children are our future Teach them well and let them lead the way..."
-Written by Michael Masser, Recorded by George Benson and Whitney Houston
Yesterday was a fun day. It started out with a regularly scheduled Zoom meeting and after that was over, it was time to prepare for yet another Zoom call. But this one was about to be way more exciting and terrifying. It was almost time to talk to Ms. T's fourth grade class about climate change.
Ms. T had reached out nearly four weeks ago and asked if I would speak to her class about climate change. I had just been accepted into the Oxford School of Climate Change (OSCC), 2021 Hilary cohort, and posted about it on LinkedIn. Who knew that a little post about OSCC would lead to that special invitation? I consider it special because sharing knowledge with kids is a big responsibility and those who are tasked with the daily responsibility of teaching kids are special people. Plus kids can be tough. They typiclly have a sense of when you're trying to sell them a load of crap, so I wanted to present information about climate change in a straighforward way that they could really grasp.
But I also wanted there to be an exchange, a give-and-take conversation. After all, I don't consider myself a "sage on a stage" but a "guide on the side" and although understanding the topic of climate change and the impending crisis is crucial, I didn't want to bore thirty-plus, 9 year-olds for a whole hour. My thought was that they had already heard something about climate change, so I wanted to go beyond just helping them shore up their knowledge, I wanted them to get in on the action. During the presentation, I showed them pictures of young climate change and environmental activists, most who were only about six or seven years older than them. I asked them for their ideas about what individuals, businesses, and governments should be doing to address this impending crisis. They had suggestions. One wanted to write the president and I encouraged him to do so, right away.
Fourth graders have a lot to offer, they just need things explained in a way that they can understand. I suppose that also applies to first, second, third, fifth graders, and so on. Imparting knowledge about the impending climate crisis was rewarding, but the sweet spot was when I could see those 9 year-olds being able to move beyond learning. After all didn't Confucious or Ben Franklin say something like:
“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.”
Much thanks to all the fourth graders in Ms. T's class and to Ms. T for inviting me.