Teacher’s stories about teaching environmental sustainability issues in their classes
Interview with Zohreh. E.
What grade do you teach? What do you think your students needto learn about environmental sustainability issues?
I am teaching grade 4 and 5 in a private school in Shiraz, Iran. We do have very serious problems with water deficiency especially in Fars province and we know all these issues are because of abusing the environment. So, I think it is very important to start teaching children how to take care of the environment from the early ages and let them know what will happen if we do not care for our planet.
Thus, the knowledge about our environment and sustainability issues should get a serious place in our curriculum.
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 started my classes by showing the students some videos about the environmental issues we are facing in the world now. I tried to grab their attention to the ugly side of abusing the mother of nature by watching different video clips and short documentaries in our class.
After that, we discussed different possibilities about how to take care of the environment and we tried to pull some rules out of our conversations for the semester.
For example, we defined a “free car day” once a week. As I said, I am teaching in a private school and the tuition fee of this school is quite high. So, normally these kids are from rich families and they come to school with one of the parents by car. And one of the important issues in big cities in Iran is air pollutions.
So, I asked them to convince their parents based on the knowledge they got from the documentaries, to bring them to school by bus or subway just once a week as it could be very helpful to have a better weather in our city.
They were so excited about it and I can say most of them could convince their parents to do so.
The other thing that I tried was about the plastic bottles of water or juice that the kids consume while they are at school. So, we put a big box at the corner of the class and I asked kids to throw every single bottle they use in the box for a duration of one month.
Oh, my God, even me was so surprised about the amount of the bottles we accumulated in a month. And in this way, they saw how the regular use of plastic bottles could end in a huge mass of plastics in just one small society like our class and this would be much bigger when we see it in a context of a country or world.
What was your students’ response? How did you assess their learning?
I can say it was a really good experience and it made the kids think about the planet and environment and how they should take steps to take care of it.
At the end of the semester, I asked students to write a reflection about their experience in our class and explain how they feel about the environment afterward. And I got very nice responses and reflections. I was so impressed.
I counted the reflections as an extra mark for the science course to assess their learnings and also as a reward.
Interviewee: Sahar Fazeli, PhD Candidate, DISE, McGill University