Sunday, February 05, 2023 | Rajab 13, 1444 H
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Teaching children the power and beauty of nature

The recent climactic developments all over the world, unfortunately, led to irreplaceable suffering and loss for families who were effected by death and personal injury during adverse weather conditions.

This is, as we now know, not a freak incident but a recurring one across the world, largely due to unseasonal weather conditions. Yet, we as society remain unconcerned. It is time we took up the issue of educating children about climate change, and the power of nature, more seriously.

Of course, it is not only children who need to be aware of the swift changes in weather patterns and their impact, but children are ideal targets for education because they are aware, and in fact, worried about these changes, and because the largest impact is going to be on their future lives.

Known at times as ‘eco-anxiety’, young adults are rightly concerned and worried about the swift way in which climate change is so obviously impacting our world. According to the BBC, youngsters are also anxious about what they can do to minimise these impacts.

An important suggestion by environmentalists and educationists is to make climate and disaster management an inclusive part of the curriculum and not just a one-off lesson on a light school day.

Terms like climate, greenhouse effect, and species extinction and desert barrenness are important ones that can be woven into any subject, including sciences and mathematics, and not only social sciences.

Nor does this have to be so gloomy. There are various initiatives which can be taken up, by teachers and parents, which will encourage children to care about the environment and actually see a speedy positive change. Creating spaces for dialogue and creative interaction will help to make climate central to a child’s education. Creativity can be in the form of short skits, debates, writing or even drawing about the future. There is no area of education where nature is left out.

More than this, it is also important to inculcate civic sense within children. Parents, of course, remain the primary role models but schools can encourage basic values like environmental cleanliness and regard for others as part of their larger project to develop thinking and responsible adults.

Nature is regenerative and needs only the slightest nudge to come to life again. Witness the sprouting greens on the otherwise dark brown hills around Muscat. A bit of rain is all it needs to make the shoots come out. The lesson in that is of hope, not despair.

It is a valuable lesson for children, and a therapeutic one. Being one with nature, sitting still for a while, and responding to thoughts and feelings that occur in that stillness is an irreplaceable lesson, one that cannot be taught but encouraged.

So is going back to stories of our grandparents, of folktales and oral tales, all of which revolve around the beauty and wisdom of animals, trees, mountains and rivers – nature itself talking to human beings about its power and beauty. It is a lesson we urgently need to share with our children.

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