Engaging with climate change in your Classroom

‘A healthy environment’ means different things to different people. Similarly, environmental issues manifest differently depending on the context. To adequately understand the features, causes and effects of environmental issues, and to respond creatively by developing solutions or alternatives, we need to draw on skills, insights and inspiration from all areas of human endeavour, including the Arts, Humanities, Science and Technology, Economics, Management, Philosophy and Spirituality. Even at school we find environmental content in all subjects. In this Fundisa for Change programme we will explore environmental and sustainability content that is pertinent to Life Orientation. It is important to ‘know your subject’ well, and particularly the environmental content embedded in your subject. Knowledge on its own, however, is not enough, and the creative teacher uses a wide range of methods to mediate learning. And of course, learning needs to be assessed if learner performance and achievement are to be adequately monitored. Finally, it is important to know how to extend the environmental content in your subject so that it makes a practical difference in the life of the school. The Fundisa for Change programme aims to support and prepare teachers to engage with environmental and sustainability knowledge and skills in the curriculum, so that they may contribute to building the environmentally sustainable and healthy society that is envisaged in South Africa’s Constitution.

To teach Life Orientation for sustainability in a situation of climate change, one must investigate the following questions:

  • What is climate change?

  • How did our past activities contribute to climate change?

  • What are the consequences of our actions and how will climate change affect our sustainable living and well-being?

  • What can be done to address climate change’s effects and challenges to ensure a sustainable future on earth?

  • How can we prepare our learners and communities to understand the consequences of climate change in order for them to respond and become actively part of the resilience and adaptation process?

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to the long-term shifts in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures. Climate change is happening, and it is mainly caused by human activities that lead to severe and damaging effects. The primary human activities that cause climate change include driving cars, creating electricity from non-renewable resources, and cutting down trees. These activities release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which slowly warm the planet, creating climate change.

For additional notes on climate change, click here or refer to your Fundisa for Change Core Text to better understand climate change.

Read the following articles to understand the impact of climate change on Southern Africa and the Southern African youth.

Watch the two YouTube videos discussing the impact of climate change in Southern Africa and the larger African context.

Click on the articles below about the recent floods in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa and Australia. Answer the following questions on the effects of climate change on a global and local scale. How would you start a conversation to discuss these topics related to climate change in your classroom?

  • What kind of precautions can be implemented to manage natural disasters better?
  • What would the Life Orientation teacher’s role be once this community returns to school?
  • Looking at the recommended solution-orientated teaching approach, is this article a good fit for a lesson start-up story?
  • If a learner brings this article in for discussion, how would you discuss it from a Life Orientation point of view in the context of climate change as a matter of concern?

Open this session’s forum and tell us what role do you think the Life Orientation classroom setting plays in preparing our learners and community to respond to climate change?