Are schools equipping kids with the skills to understand and deal with climate change? Some German students don’t think so and are trying to get their curriculum changed.
Victoria Bederov tilts her head to one side and considers the question for a moment. What does the 18-year-old Berlin student think about climate education in German schools?
“The climate education is unfortunately horrible,” she says definitively. Her fellow students at the Private Kant School in Berlin, 19-year-old Alina Runk and 18-year-old Leonie Brockmann, nod furiously in agreement.
The three final-year high students say the education system is failing to equip children and teenagers with the skills to address climate change — something they see as a major threat to their future.
“It’s not just a teaching of climate change but our survival basically,” Bederov says. “It’s not enough for the education system to rely on recycling and saying changing light bulbs is the answer.”
It is precisely such suggestions that appear most in high-school textbooks — in Germany and elsewhere — as ways to help slash CO2 emissions, say the students and their biology teacher Bruce Phillips.
In fact, these measures have a much lower impact on emissions than living car-free or taking fewer flights.
“They (the students) all know about the problems,” Phillips says. “But they don’t know what they should be doing to have the most impact on reducing their carbon footprint … We’re really setting them up to get an F-grade.”
Now Runk, Brockmann and Bederov are on a mission to update the German curriculum.
Three students, Alina Runk, Leonie Brockmann and Victoria Bederov (left to right) and their teacher Bruce Phillips want school textbooks to be updated to give young people better ways to fight climate change
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