Teacher’s stories about teaching environmental sustainability issues in their classes
Interview with Harini Narayanan
What grade do you teach? What do you think your students needto learn about environmental sustainability issues?
I was teaching grade 8 and grade 9. So literally the high school students.
As you know the whole world is running behind environmental sustainability today And of course the problem is diplomatic changes that we have today. For example, the tsunami we had back in India or still the diplomacy changes in Africa and all over the globe. I think we abused the mother nature to the core and now we are facing the consequences.
Thus, I think the environmental sustainability has to be given to kids and they have to know what is the concept? why are we learning that? and then how does learning environmental sustainability will allow us to take care of our environment?
So, having all those components into the conversation, I believe and I strongly recommend that we have to start little by little, just give the students a spoon of knowledge about the environment, and not only in high school but from middle or even the primary school.Then when they reach to high school, give them the exact picture about what is happening in the whole world. Why should we take care of the mother of nature, why we should take care of the environment and how we do that?
So, the foundation has to be laying back strong saying that we have to do something for environmental sustainability
Could you please tell us about 1 or 2 activities that you haveused in your classroom to develop your students’ understanding andempathy about environmental issues? How did you engage your students?
I was working in a school in Ethiopia. It was founded by a funding Center coming all the way from United States and we didn't have enough money to do some kind of fancy sustainability environmental activities, but we still be able to do some activities.
The school and residences were all in one campus and people who were living there, they accumulate the kitchen waste in one corner of the building so we had lots of kitchen waste. So after sometime the whole campus used to smell.
As a science teacher working there, one day when I was walking to the class I thought that we have to do something about this smell.
So in the class I asked my students: “what would you like to do with this? how do you think you could deal with this issue?”.
Then, it was a bunch of students who came off and said: “why don't we convert them into a compost?”
I fell so happy when they came up with this idea and I said: “Wow!! this is something great. Now sit down and let's write the schedule and let me know what you want to do exactly about it.”
After couple of days, they came up with a nice schedule. I can say that the whole research was initiated by them and I just facilitated the idea. I never went with them, I never sat with them to do the whole thing. So they just went to the internet, they browsed and they found the way to make compost. They came up with the whole process andthey said: “we will split the mask and then we'll make the different holes and will make sandwiches of waste and soil.”
Ethiopia has a very rich soil itself. So, they made sandwich of waste and soil and they used to water them on a regular and exact basis. They took care of it and after a week the compost was good and ready.
They were happy, I was very happy and also the whole school was happy because we didn't have the smell anymore and that was the main reason and the main idea and it was a major goal for me to get rid of the mass of waste and the children were able to make handmade compost and it was so exciting. We used the compost for the plants in the same campus. We had a couple of plants in the campus ‘garden such as roses and vegetables and we started to use this compost for them which was very practical and nice.
What was your students’ response? How did you assess their learning?
I Think I have talked about my students’ response in detail in the previous question but regarding the assessment of their learning I can saythat I started involving their actions into their academics.
I decided to mark that as a project and I started evaluating them on that. I think it has motivated them to do much more because they got points and they needed that points and it was the rewarding system.
Also the school coordinator was so sweet and kind enough to make a notable work for these students in that the students. So, on school closing day when they used to have celebrations he used to reward the students who were involved in this project with a certificate and I can say this made the students very happy.
Interviewee: Sahar Fazeli, PhD Candidate, DISE, McGill University