Less climate change: more flag quizzes?

The Arctic

The Arctic

I’m digging around in the proposed changes to the UK curriculum, including geography, which to date has been the main home of school learning about environmental issues. Climate change and sustainability are entirely absent from a 221 page document. Drafting error? The consultation document appears to kick this stuff out in favour of sturdy learning of flags, rivers and country names. Lets hope some of these places don’t get wiped off the map. Here is my current draft of a contribution to the consultation:

Michael Gove’s proposed revisions to the Geography curriculum appear to erase mention of climate change and sustainability. These issues promise to influence the lives of today’s young people lives in far reaching ways. They also give a sense of purpose to learning about physical and human processes, and the interaction between them. Indeed these interactions have always been at the core of this distinctive subject. No doubt geography teachers will continue to teach resource and environmental change issues under the proposed curriculum. They are popular with students and teachers, and help to bring the subject alive. Their place in the curriculum was given a boost in the wake of Margaret Thatcher’s groundbreaking speeches in 1989 on the global economic and social threats posed by a range of environmental issues, above all climate change. It also reflected developments in geographical research and teaching in universities globally.

What use is it to be able to label places, rivers and flags without acknowledging the literally vital ways in which all people and places are bound together in a common fate? Introducing concepts like sustainability and interdependence, and knowledge of climate change or biodiversity loss, into the curriculum reflected cross-party consensus and the gathered wisdom of the research community.

Their removal appears political: playing to imagined prejudices of a Tory right that recalls a globe half draped in the Union Jack. It is a melancholy fact that Mr. Gove and his Cabinet colleagues are unlikely to experience the worst of the anticipated consequences of the current lack of political vigour on environmental issues. It is the young who will get to fill in the gaps in their geography curriculum first hand across the course of their lives.

You can find the consultation here, though the e-participation tool is currently offline.

https://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/departmentalinformation/consultations

and the document itself is here:

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/n/national%20curriculum%20consultation%20-%20framework%20document.pdf

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