A Change of Mind and Heart: Education is not enough

When I was in graduate school for my natural resources degree (EE/EI), one of our first assignments was to read two papers written by seminal voices in the environmental field. One was by Richard Wilke and the other was by Jo Kwong. Before I started the assignment, I was pretty sure that I felt that yes, education about the environment was enough. This meant that if one is educated on issues involving the environment, climate change, and sustainability, it is enough – one doesn’t always have to act. Now, I believe otherwise. But, before I get into that, I need to provide some history. My entrance into environmental education took place well before my formal education in it. And the formal education was not to add to my knowledge base that had already both grown vast and specialized but to add some legitimate authority to the development of my lesson plans, teaching, and evaluation of student learning. In sum, I spend fifteen years as an informal environmental educator of elementary students aged seven to eleven. So, therein lies the base for my reasoning as I started the paper assignment. I worked with young children. I’m providing education. Yes, that’s enough. I mean what can young children do? As it turned out, quite a bit! And as I started to do research for the paper, finding sources to support which view I would espouse in my paper, I found I was wrong. Education about the environment is NOT enough.

If all we do is know, and do not act to inspire or complete change, then NOTHING happens. The change we need will be slow or non-existent if just knowing is enough. Some of my garden club students have taken the base of knowledge provided in the garden club (which was really an environmental science club) and gone on to do things that show they are committed to environmental change. One is an organic farmer and committed to sustainability. Another is pursuing climate change research. Several have gone on to provide monarch butterfly habitat at their homes, convincing their parents that, in fact, milkweed is NOT a weed. A few act as citizen scientists, recording and submitting observations to researchers that work toward sustaining specific species. And, I’m sure there are others working for our Earth in ways that I don’t even know about. (I last surveyed my students in 2017 for my final research paper. The students I surveyed were only those that were over 18 at the time, to avoid having to obtain parental consent. It would be interesting to survey the students who have since come of age to answer a survey on their own.) It was both gratifying and interesting to see how early knowledge and involvement in an environmentally based group could go on to help shape these young students into those that eventually DO TAKE ACTION in their own lives and communities.

We need to not only provide information to our youth and communities on the environment and the challenges we face due to changes in climate and habitat, but we also need to call them to action. This is THE most important part. ACTION.

So, I asked in my blog this week and in a poem, I wrote for Earth Day, “what will you do?” I know what I’ve done and will continue to do. YOU need to do something! Everyone needs to do something to combat the decline that is occurring in

our environment,

our earth,

our celestial home.

So, I ask again, what will you do? Your initial action might entail gaining the knowledge you need to use. There are many sources for that, just look online.

Plastic reduction

Clean water

Pollinator Habitat

Sustainable Food Production

Alternative Energy

And, more.

If you need help finding credible sources of information to inspire your action, I’ll be glad to help. Just reach out to me in the comments.

The fact is that by the time I wrote my paper, my mind and my heart had changed. Education is not enough. It must be followed by ACTION. Again, What will you do to help our Earth?

Pixabay, Free for use images.

Next weekend, I will explore another similar thought process. Is being a gifted individual enough or do you need to share your gifts with the world?

This idea was spurred by a post I saw this morning that featured some gifted students I used to work with when they were in elementary school (yes, some of the very ones that were in the garden club I mentioned above). I returned to the phrase I have oft heard – being gifted is not enough, one has to share those gifts. The trouble I see with this is that the way the sharing is done is not similar from one person to another, nor is some of the ways of sharing those gifts are supported by some in the position to mold the futures of our gifted youth. Surely, a lot to wrap my head about in a way that I can share and be understood.

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