Sept 23 – 27 was ‘Climate Week’. Lots of teachers around the world were doing great things to mark the event. One teacher, Gwyneth Sarah Simms, told us about a week of action in her school (CEIP San Miguel, Madrid). One remark that stuck with me was this, ‘Minute silence this morning. Even the 3 year olds were quiet!!!It was amazing!’ This thought has stuck with me for months and made me realize (again) the incredible position and responsibility that we have as teachers.
Now more than ever before we need to help our students develop the skills they need to evaluate information and decide what is true and what is fake. With the climate emergency we’ve seen a worrying rise in reports, articles and blog posts that are based on misinformation at best and often lies. Sometimes getting to the truth is time-consuming and full of obstacles but I’ve noticed a growing awareness of the need to question ‘facts’ among members of the ELT Footprint community. A typical sequence goes something like this:
- Person 1 posts an article.
- Person 2 questions the validity.
- Persons 3, 4, 5 etc. research the topic to find and share evidence supporting or refuting the first article and perhaps sharing a new article.
- Discussions ensue, publicly and in private.
- We all learn a bit more.
I’m sure I’m not alone in now questioning almost every statistic I see and fact checking several sources before stating any environmental issue as a fact!
Sometimes when a member shares an interesting article or image to the Facebook page, other members share ideas about how it could be used in class, often with creative, exciting ideas. One recent example of this came when someone shared a powerful image of a tree being chopped down by two men who are oblivious to the animals about to lose their source of habitat, food and shade (and some ideas for using it in class). Ana Castro Alonso used the image as a springboard for a poster project and writing task. But I’m sure the outcomes of this lesson went beyond everything language-related.
One thing that is important to us in this community is that we aren’t interested in publicly shaming but prefer to praise and share ideas for good practice and positive green actions. We get a lot of this on the Facebook page so it’s difficult to just choose one example to highlight here. I’ve chosen this photo shared by Linda Yael because it is simple but, as with most simple ideas, effective. It shows ‘Well organised bins in a school in San Martín de los Andes, Patagonia, Argentina’, colour-coded recycling bins to make recycling easier for students and teachers.
On Nov 21, when OUP decided to announce their Word of the Year for 2019, they decided to include ELT Footprint in their list of press release recipients. So while I was primarily pleased with the winning word, climate emergency, itself and by the fact that the ten other shortlisted words, all came from within the same theme, it was especially gratifying see ELT Footprint being perceived as a worthy beneficiary of such news.
Happy Birthday ELT Footprint! Here’s to the next six months.