Dominic Bradford, October 2019

Greta Thunberg, 2019
Photograph: Michael Campanella/The Guardian

When Greta Thunberg addressed the United Nations on September 20 2019, she stated: “Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you.”  It was a bold statement calling for action by adult leaders from the now famous teenage activist.  It was also a desperate call to action in the face of changing climate events. 

The question I have as a teacher is how to bring the children we teach to this big world with big questions in a way that they feel empowered to going beyond the novelty of marches, banners, and strikes.  What is it inside children that we as a society can connect with so that they can transform big action into daily effective action?  In a Montessori classroom this is a question we ask ourselves as teachers regularly.  More exactly how do we allow children to do things in our classroom that will be an impression that will inform the child in front of us, and the person that they are developing to BE.  Recent demonstrations about climate change show “attention” to a big problem and the children I teach are connecting with it.  What I see our role, children and adults alike in the classroom, is to bring “intention” to actually address this big idea of a global crisis.  What we are doing this month is identifying and codifying how we as a community behave in our daily lives through surveys the children will conduct. This first step will lay the baseline for the children to then make observations about those behaviours.  Then they can work to relate them to issues of climate change. 

I am hoping it is then that children will make the recommendations that they need to follow and then share with all of us.   We can then go on to record how effective we are at carrying out that modified behaviour.  Parallel to this work we will also look at some basic scientific concepts that are part of climate changes.  For example, carbon, what is it, where does it come from, and what does it do?  Likewise we will look at the role of water vapour in the rising of global temperatures.  We will examine those two concepts to bring a scientific understanding to the issue of global warming to balance out the more sociologically inclined events that are present recently. 

It is so positive that Greta Thurnberg has glavinised a population to act, and it is our role now to transform that act through knowledge to sustainable efforts of intention here at home.  Fortunately, as Dr. Maria Montessori observed: “The child is not an empty being who owes whatever he knows to us who have filled him up with it. “  Instead the Child is the number one builder of self.  In fact there is no person existing who has not been formed by the child he once was.

Climate change protest in Whitehorse, Yukon Canada