HomeOpinion & AnalysisTransforming children’s climate experiences through art

Transforming children’s climate experiences through art


Peter Makwanya
OVER-RELIANCE on traditional media channels such as radio, newspapers and television, to communicate climate change issues may not bring desired results in the fight against negative impacts of climate change. Art is vital in capturing human attention through a variety of engagements like drawings, paintings, collage, photographs, batik, cartoons, sculptures, storytelling and all forms of visuals that appeal to all human senses.

These are designed to fill information gaps on climate change as a result of limitations of traditional forms of media channels.

The human eye is a special point of appeal towards changing human behaviour through the integration of all the sensory properties in learning.

The visual nature of art promotes the senses of sight, hearing, touching and smell.

The traditional forms of media are instrumental in communication because of their history but unbeknown to many, they are not sufficiently engaging as they leave out children, youths and the general public because of their technical, abstract and complex nature of communication.

From the children’s perspective, it is difficult to convince them that climate change is a subject which is not complex.

Sustainable use of art remain under reported to the detriment of the children’s interrogation of climate change issues.

In this regard, climate change education can take advantage of the school system recently revamped curriculum, to situate climate art strategically and sustainably without disturbing the fluency and running of schools, and foster collaborations, consultations and engagements.

Climate art is vital and transformative, hence it can be placed at the centre of children’s learning.

The advantage of climate art is that it is cross-cutting and interdisciplinary and has diagrams communicating environmental landscapes.

These images have pervading impacts on the human mind to visualise nature and transform their thinking to take climate action to save lives.

In the school curricula, teachers sometimes lack interest and opt for singing, writing corrections or homework when it is time for art.

Failure to communicate climate art in empowering ways will limit the children’s creative self-expressions, make them future candidates for inheriting a world littered with complex social environmental challenges.

While education plays a vital role in interrogating climate change issues, school curricula requires sustainable overhaul so that they don’t remain stagnant, overtaken by events, straight jacketed and rudimentary but should be interactive, child-centred and participatory in nature.

This is important for children’s lifelong learning, for them to believe in themselves, confidence building and nurturing of sustainable voices and choices for desired climate action and solutions.

Gone are the days when climate change used to be commodified by the geographical and scientific communities, when it used to be known for its fear-inducing messages, sending chills down the spines of many.

Climate change is now highly interdisciplinary in scope, context and content and can even be interrogated using humour in forms of art such as cartoons, banners, pictures, slogans, paintings and mascots, among others.

In this regard, the idea is to magnify many forms of abuse through the works of art such as cartoons, depicting activities to do with the environment in fair but serious ways to communicate meaning and action.

To do so, humour is required to communicate climate action through diagrammatic representations with less talking, as a picture can represent a thousand words.

Cartoons do not only communicate sarcasm or jokes to induce laughter or pity but are handy through their versatile nature.

Human beings have travelled a lot for unproductive conference of parties and continue to do so but works of art can be the panacea to reducing unproductive human noise about climate change and heal the sick planet.

Too much unproductive talking and lack of sincerity in curbing negative impacts of climate change is building pessimism and hopelessness among children and the youths. Children require a variety of art forms as motivation tools to tackle climate impacts and live sustainable lives.

Arts have a great potential to play pivotal roles, add value and engage children and the youths progressively.

Works of art are vital in providing spaces for creative imaginations, experimentation and the art of communicating risks.

Young people’s power of imagination can be extended through actively involving them and ensuring they participating in artistic synergies, coalitions and collaborations.

Works of art can prove vital as pathways of reconnecting children with nature.

Even without raising voices or understanding what is written in catchy words, art has the power to raise climate awareness, engage target audiences and pave sustainable pathways to address complex climate change problems weighing down on communities.

These works of art should be viewed in line with the stories that we should live by, that is ecological ways of shaming human behaviours and exposing those stories that encourage environmental destruction.

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