Education exists to prepare people for the world and for the future. Because of it, teaching students about the environment is essential for their personal development. We all depend on the environment, which makes it our obligation and our life purpose to sustain and improve it. This takes environmental education to a whole new level. This is why teachers bring nature into classrooms or teach their classes outdoor. Environmental education doesn’t cease when the classes end, but at least during formal education, it can be tailored to prepare and make students aware of the importance of environmental preservation.
Benefits of Environmental Education
Before we show you the best tips that would boost such education, it is important to understand the benefits this education has. Here are some of the many reasons why environmental education is important in the development of each student:
- Enhances creative and critical thinking
- Gives students skills to apply in the real world
- Prompts actions to improve and boost the environment
- Teaches about ecological issues, but also political, cultural, and economic ones
- Sparks the creativity and imagination
- Encourages a healthier lifestyle
- Strengthens a community
- Reduces nature deficit disorders
- Encourages and promotes tolerance between cultures
How to Improve Environmental Education
Education that is focused on the environment can be very successful and yield amazing results only if it is taught properly. Here are some tips on how to do this.
1. Give Students More Responsibility
If educators and parents take over the entire burden in terms of environmental preservation, students won’t be prompted to take action for their environment. There should be much more to environmental education than just classes that promote environmental awareness and homework that requires some writing.
After all, you can always pay people to do your homework and in many cases, students actually do this. Environmental education isn’t about the writing skills of an individual – it’s about putting students to action and making them do some work. If you give them more control over the projects and ask them to actually do something, they are much more likely to understand the purpose of environmental education.
2. Help Them Get a Sense of It
Students can hardly understand the environment only by reading about it in books. No one says that you should take them to complete big projects, but simply going outside with them is going to give them a better sense of what they are learning.
3. Get Help
This type of education isn’t your ordinary ‘read some books’ or ‘write some papers’ education. When you’re teaching a thing of such grand and varied importance, you need the help from organizations, citizens, and even the local government.
If you really want to improve the education, it is time to pair up with people who specialize in doing so. For example, the US has a National Environmental Education Agency that partners with educators and students to inspire and boost the environmental education. You can also find many school programs, field trips, and other activities that would help you with this matter.
It is time to start connecting and asking for help. Once you do, you’ll realize that the numbers of people who are environmentally-aware and care about this are very numerous. Knowing what they know, they’ll be more than willing to help out in shaping the youngest minds.
4. Provide Outside-Class Opportunities
If you manage to make students more environmentally-aware and create useful and interesting activities to promote their environmental education, they are bound to show interest to actually make something for their environment.
It would be a shame if they do, but you haven’t provided them with opportunities to actually use the knowledge they’ve attained.
With the help of all those organizations you reached out to, create opportunities for students to care and act in their environment in case they show interest to do so. And once they do, support them and keep their excitement growing. You can’t really expect students who’ve just become environmentally-aware to find their own opportunities to use this knowledge right away. Unless you do, they’ll probably lose the interest.
5. Be a Role Model
One of the biggest flaws of the educational system is that educators are very bad role models when it comes to environmental preservation. You can’t really teach students that the nature should be kept and preserved if you litter, smoke, or drive a car to work.
If you really want to make a difference, become a role model. Let students see that you’re environmentally aware too. They’re more likely to follow your footsteps if you do, or ignore the environmental problems if you don’t care.
The young generations are eager to learn and develop and it is up to the educational systems to guide them on the right path. If you want them to be environmentally aware and promote the environment’s health, you need to boost the ways that you use to teach them.
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Thank you for putting this out there. I agree with your opinion and I hope more people would come to agree with this as well.