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Interactive climate change participatory cultures and literacies for secondary schools


THE statement that climate change is one of the greatest threats to sustainable development is becoming a cliché.

guest column: Peter Makwanya

Peter Makwanya
Peter Makwanya

Although this is well-known, we have no choice but to continue reminding each other on the dangers of climate change, as well as how we can manage it.

In this regard, secondary school teachers need to be empowered with sustainable and comprehensive interactive, climate change participatory cultures and literacies so they will be able to pass on vital knowledge to their learners in order to nurture climate growth, wisdom and culture.

Although it is not quite clear how climate knowledge is integrated into the new schools’ curriculum and the national action plans and policies, it is critical for secondary school teachers to demonstrate an appreciation of how climate change relates to sustainable development.

It is also critical for secondary schools’ authorities to view and understand climate change as a broad and crosscutting interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary issue, rather than a narrow subject specific course.

Climate change is not only about geography, agriculture or environmental sciences, it is more than that.

It is for this reason that climate change education should be integrated and articulated across the curriculum evenly, regardless of whether one is from communication studies, religion or fine arts.

For secondary school learners to effectively participate in interactive, participatory cultures and literacies in the climate change discourse, teachers need to explore a wide range of pedagogical approaches and techniques they can harness and apply into their own schools’ settings, contexts and situations.

The climate interactive, participatory cultures and literacies may be in the form of peer and public debates, poetry, song, public speaking contests, essay writing competitions, interactive video and photographing competitions, as well as participating in climate change literacy games, science expos, quiz shows, nature conservation shows and online dialogic platforms.

According to Romm (2007) climate change is coming faster and rougher than scientists had expected.

It is against this background that everybody, schools included, should be conscious and prepare learners’ for handling tougher encounters against future impacts of climate change.

But for them to have an interest in this, pupils need to be guided into visualising climate change issues in holistic terms, as well as being cultured about how exactly climate change affects their living, livelihoods and survival techniques.

Our national climate change outlook and knowledge should cease to be adult centric.

Secondary school children should not be included in national and international climate change fora for window dressing or glossing purposes.

Children need to be assisted to run and participate in their own child-exclusive workshops, competitions, and even conferences, where they are free to articulate climate change adaptation from their own points of view, vision, desires and aspirations.

Adults should only come in for facilitating, moderating and guidance.

Sometimes secondary school children only being invited for climate change conferences to recite poems, some of which would have been written by their teachers.

By so doing, who will we be fooling?

What is needed are learners’ own initiatives, enough to explore, inculcate and nurture their own originality and creative expressions.

They need to find ways and methodologies of confronting climate risks.

Climate change interactive, participatory cultures and literacies would go a long way in empowering pupils to demonstrate full knowledge of drought resistant farming practices, climate smart agriculture, or disaster risk reduction behaviours such as flood management strategies, weather prediction, interpretation and monitoring techniques, in order for them to be able to predict, record, classify, calculate, and deduce so that they stay alert, well informed and being critical of changes around their environments.

These would also contribute in building resilience.

Interactive and participatory cultures should be designed to actively engage learners into collective empowerment and sustainable climate protection activities.

This would clearly and strategically situate these pupils within the paradigm of education for sustainable development, aimed at greater community involvement, life-long skills learning programmes, as well as holistic protection of ecosystems based adaptation for nurturing critical thinking, scientific inquiry and problem-solving techniques.

Properly cultured, interactive participatory and climate literacies will broaden the pupils’ world views.

The overall purpose would be to adequately prepare learners and communities to avoid biodiversity loss, degradation of ecosystems, and climate based socio-economic stresses.

Learners need to be empowered with problem-solving and solution driven interactive and participatory techniques, highlighted in earlier paragraphs.

These will also help pupils understand and appreciate changes in their local landscapes, challenges and dimensions, which are critical in motivating them through real life experiences.

The significance of climate change interactive and participatory cultures and literacies are that they are not only situated within the confinements of classroom settings, but may be related to their outdoor environments.

Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on: petrovmoyt@gmail.com

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