Climate change is the greatest threat of our time. It affects society, nature, technology, economy and culture in many ways.
Our society as a whole needs to change, and sustainability needs to become integrated into every aspect of society. This has also increased the need for climate change education around the world.
Climate change education emphasizes the perspectives of climate and climate responsibility and the necessity of change in the field of education. One of the aims is to increase knowledge about climate change as a phenomenon. Another aim is to guide people’s actions and behavior towards climate change mitigation and adaptation. The education of emotions is significant as well. Climate change education is a part of environmental education and education for sustainable development. It also offers a point of view for global education.
In Finland, climate change education has been a part of the secondary school curriculum for several years, and it has been implemented by individual teachers and different projects (e.g. Youth Academy's Ilmari project). A climate change education guide for subject-specific teachers, a Teacher's Climate Guide, was also published recently. Increasing climateresponsible actions requires a change in people’s worldview and a stronger sense of communal responsibility. Therefore building a sustainable way of life should begin early, before entering secondary school.
So how did we, two Finnish primary school teacher students, end up being involved in climate change education?
Our interest is an outcome of a strong childhood relationship with nature, the desire to create a change in the society, and a drive for education. Climate change has been close to our hearts for many years now, and because we study primary school education, climate change education in primary schools was a natural focus for us.
During our studies we realized that climate change education does not really exist in primary schools, at least not in Finland. We became interested in researching the issue and what such education should include. As luck would have it, the University of Lapland’s climate change education project was just about to start. We got to contribute to it with our Master’s thesis in which we focus on the perceptions on climate change education on the primary school level. The project will generate information and materials for primary schools to bring awareness to and diversify the methods used in climate change education. The results of the study will also be used in the Primary School Teacher's Climate Guide that will be published in 2019.
Climate change is mentioned in the Finnish National Core Curriculum for Basic Education. That means all primary and secondary school teachers should address the issue in their teaching. Of course, we hope that teachers would find climate change important to discuss in school, but we also understand that it is not the easiest topic to deal with. Hopefully this project and all the climate change education material produced will help with this challenge.