they can is on every parent’s mind. We rightly feel that a good education will help our child reach their potential and will equip them with much needed skills and knowledge to face future challenges.
Regrettably, though, learning about the environment is not always part of our children’s education curriculum. And when it is, it is all too often considered an area of lesser priority compared to other courses. This is a worrying in itself given the growing body of evidence indicating a strong link between our environment and well-being, but it is even more worrying given the multiple environmental challenges future generations will have to face and adapt to over the next few years. In other words, at a time when our bond with nature should be the strongest, our children are more disassociated than ever with our natural environment.
Nurturing a relationship with our natural environment can bring substantial benefits in terms of children’s physical and mental health from helping sustain concentration and reduce stress to encouraging physical exercise. Playing in our natural environment stimulates the imagination but it also fosters a sense of connectedness to a larger world of living things. These are important learnings for children that can potentially help shape their behaviour toward the environment in the future.
However, recent trends indicate that children have much less access to nature than ever before. Earlier this year, a two-year study found that more than 10% of children in England have not been to a natural environment in the past 12 months. With fewer children accessing the unique benefits of our environment, the chances of future generations adapting to our changing environment also diminish. This is where an environmental education fostered at home and reinforced in school can help reverse this trend.
By bringing our children closer to nature by playing outdoors, visiting parks or forests or taking up hobbies such as cycling, we would be creating strong relationships with the environment which is important not only in recreational terms but also in terms of our children’s wellbeing. A wholesome curriculum which includes regular excursions or provides students throughout the school day with access to nature would further strengthen this bond. On top of this, courses on environment could be educating our children about sustainability issues, our planet’s finite resources and current growth patterns and by doing so sensitise future generations to the biggest challenges of our times such as climate change, biodiversity loss and resource scarcity.
By pursuing such a holistic education system, where the environment is part of the key curriculum, we would be laying the foundations for effecting major shifts in our production and consumption patterns in a way that makes them compatible with our planet’s environmental limits. From a professional point of view, an environmental education it would make children more open to pursuing careers in the environmental sector or developing innovative and sustainable business models to help address the vast environmental challenges we are facing.