Curriculum Links to Sustainability Education and Action
Teaching about environmental sustainability has never been more important as we increasingly feel the effects of an unsustainable human footprint on the planet’s systems. Albertans are not immune to these stresses: wildfires, extreme weather events, flooding, and a faltering economy define our new reality. Students, who are staring at an uncertain if not bleak future, are feeling the weight of these challenges.
But with a new curriculum still months, if not years, away, is it possible for teachers to weave more environmental and sustainability education into their everyday practice while delivering on the current curriculum? The answer is a resounding YES! The current curriculum provides ample opportunity to make connections with the following sustainability themes:
- Nature and place
- Indigenous perspectives
- Climate change
- Municipal environmental and climate action plans and strategies
Example of Grade 4 curriculum links. Graphic by ACEE (2020).
Making these connections creates wonderful opportunities to engage and inspire students as they:
- explore and learn about their own surroundings and community
- develop a greater sense of connectedness with the natural world and the great web of life
- acquire an enhanced sense of well-being and belonging, learn to be good local and global citizens
- are empowered to be real-world problem-solvers and as a result, feel more hopeful for the future.
As teachers, educators, and parents, we have a responsibility to equip students to help build a brighter, more sustainable future. The Alberta Teachers Association agrees. In August 2020 the ATA adopted two important resolutions:
3-13/20 BE IT RESOLVED that the Association accept the scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is a real and critical challenge affecting the planet and the future of humanity.
3-14/20 BE IT RESOLVED that the Association support the inclusion of curriculum that explicitly addresses issues relating to anthropogenic climate change in a manner that is subject and age appropriate.
We hope you find these curriculum links useful, and welcome your comments (Marie[at]abcee.org).
Kindergarden - Grade 3
Environmental education needs to be age appropriate. The focus for younger students should be on connecting with nature, and understanding the interconnections among plants, animals, ecosystems - and themselves. Where does the water I drink everyday come from? Where does the food I eat come from? How does my own health depend on healthy ecosystems? This is also a great time to instil good environmental and climate ‘habits’, like turning lights and electronics off when not in use, and reducing waste. It’s never too early to help students understand that the energy and resources we use to help make our lives better are precious and should not be wasted.
Grade 4 - Grade 6
As students get older, they can progressively learn more about the underlying causes and complexities of our most pressing environmental issues including climate change.
Grade 7 - Grade 9
Grade 10 - Grade 12