Time to Stop Waiting For Others to Teach Our Kids Eco Literacy


It seems not a day goes by when you hear about school budgets being radically cut, or even closed, and as a result the educational future of our next generation in uncertainty, lacking in depth & breadth. Theater, music, even the always preserved sports are being left to the side, in favor of focusing on how to train good test takers, to better secure funding.Where in this is environmental education?

In most cases, non existent. This is a problem—How can we expect the children of today to be capable stewards of our troubled planet when they don't have the basic knowledge of what's going on, what their role is, and what they can do?

That's why I'm really proud to have launched the free TerraCycle Curriculum, with a lot of help from the preeminent sustainability education designer Cloud Institute. What is it?

Well let me start with what it's not: Another rehashing of the basics of, let's face it, how to be a "better consumer." Don't get me wrong, of course I'm in support of more people making greener purchase choices, recycling, using CFLs, etc. But that's being covered everywhere you look these days, in all manner of media.

What kids need is a solid foundation of environmental knowledge, that can be applied in the rest of their lives—From where they live, play and work, to what they create at work and then what they do with it at the end of its useful life. From there, they can apply it to help shape the world in a positive way, rather then feeling like a victim of it.

So what's in this curriculum? It's a nine part series called "The Materials Cycle" that will be released each Spring, Fall and Winter for three years, with four distinct age appropriate programs for grades K through 12. The first set of lessons is Natural Laws and Principles of the Materials Cycle. We start with Kindergarteners learning about, "Where Do Apples Go? A Story About the Nature of Materials" all the way up to High School kids digging in to, "An Exploration of Cradle to Cradle Design Thinking"

And to ensure this doesn't become a valiant but ultimately unusable effort, it meets McRel national standards, among the most widely used currently. Did I mention we're not charging for this?

Why would we, with little direct benefit, do this, you ask?

It's simple: My mission with TerraCycle has always been to eliminate the idea of waste. This will help achieve that. We've already been working with 40,000 schools nationally who've been collecting packaging as part of our Brigades. I've heard hundreds stories from students, teachers, and parents how this simple act has inspired so much action. Now it's time to take this much deeper.

Having had a look at our curriculum, what if you think it could use improving?

Please, go ahead! We only ask that people upload that updated curriculum to our Curriki page—An open source curriculum community.

Readers: What other ways do you see to help increase the eco literacy of our children? What's happening now that's working well?
Read more about environmental education:
Ten Principles Behind Excellent Environmental Education Programs
Karaoke: From Cheesy Entertainment to Environmental Education Tool
Environmental Education Programs at Grand Canyon National Park Enhanced

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