Difficulties of home schooling during the Covid 19 lockdown have been well publicised, as has the recognition of the professionalism and hard work effected by teachers. Hopefully too, there will have dawned a realisation among parents and others that our education system has become mechanistic and soul-less.
Over these months when streets and air-lanes have been more tranquil, people of all ages and persuasions have experienced a raised awareness of the natural world. Many, who like myself, have had the novelty of time to spare, have reported an enhanced sound of bird song, a stronger smell of jasmine and cut grass; have restored their gardens or window boxes and taken socially distanced visits to the park or countryside. These experiences have inevitably influenced many of our children, who may have had their first, or renewed, exposure to wildlife, either personally or virtually.
We hope, therefore, that these experiences remain in the hearts and minds of parents, children and educators and that pressure builds on governments (local and national) to reinstate ‘environmental education’ as an important part of the school curriculum. That visits to the natural environment, parks, woodlands, horticultural or wildlife areas will again play a major part in school life and the nature table may even return to the classroom.
One brighter consequence of Covid, so far of course, is the recommendation that classes should take place outside where virus transmission is less likely.
Environmental education – the experience, knowledge, appreciation of and feelings for nature - must be a vital part of the curriculum and it is a truism that unless children develop a love for the natural world that they will not seek to learn to protect it – a major component of Education for Sustainability.
Let us hope, therefore, that Hackney Council and Learning Trust proceed with the pilot project for Eco-Schools in Hackney and work with us and Eco-schools to extend the scheme to all Hackney schools.
This should not, however, have the mechanistic approach of some aspects of the current curricula. There must be a ‘new Post Covid’ view of education promoting experiential and emotional learning.
Hopefully then, the enforced Covid rethinking of our lives in general and education specifically will not be wasted, we will realise that we must change and allow our young people the right to determine a better future for themselves, the rest of humanity and all other forms of life on our planet.
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