I can already imagine the raised eyebrows at the title of this post. Our curriculum aims to spur on student action to better our planet. Yet, I found myself transformed while teaching my eager third graders!
The power of a robust curriculum can propel you to question what you have always believed, inquire into what more you can do, all the while reinventing yourself as a citizen of today.Tweet
‘Student Action’ is a massive part of our program. We expect to create changemakers and barrier breakers that can think innovatively to solve problems. Every time a student resolves a problem, generates awareness, or considers creative ways to apply their learning in the real world, we celebrate that endeavour.
I had never dreamed that I would be this motivated and imbibe so much from what I was teaching.
While teaching our unit on ‘Waste’ last year, I poured through articles that would hit home with my students. I researched case studies that would compel them to realize that our planet cannot handle the waste we generate.
I discovered myself becoming progressively more ardent about doing my bit to save our planet. I lapped up knowledge about SDGs and how they are directing us towards a sustainable future. As I educated my students about water pollution, we collaborated to find workable solutions to prevent water wastage in our households. As we put our heads together, I decided to cut down my shower baths eighty percent of the time, opting instead for a bucket bath. I was stunned to note how much water I was saving. I shared this small action with my students in the classroom. They were thrilled to see that I was as passionate as they were about this endeavour. After all, if I didn’t walk the walk, how could I talk the talk?
I also gave up all single use menstrual hygiene products, opting instead for menstrual cups, period panties and cloth pads. I am keeping unnecessary trash out of landfills and hopefully inspiring others to do the same.
I gave up buying diaries to take notes for work. I instead shifted to Evernote, thus completely cutting out paper waste related to my job. If you would like to read a review of Evernote, click here-
We also stopped buying tetrapaks and milk pouches and instead opted for milk delivered in bottles which can be returned and reused by the company.
My grade and I would periodically huddle together to discuss how diligently we were sticking to our strategies to reduce water and food wastage. Ongoing assistance and inspiration spurred us to maintain our good practices and inspire others to do the same.
Since our unit on ‘Waste’ was such a hit, we chose to take it up again this year. There is something extraordinary about a call to action for the planet that encourages young learners to dig deep and make long-lasting changes to their households. Parents are generally the ones who are most alarmed by the enthusiasm. There is an apprehension about ‘new-fangled’ practices such as reusing plastic, putting the 7R’s to good use, cutting down on wastage, and segregating garbage. My students were very taken up with composting, and I tried to explain the process as simply as I could. I found resources made by children, demonstrating how easy it was to begin composting.
As I tossed these ideas out there in my classroom, I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. There I was, asking my third graders to be open-minded about composting, and yet I had never tried it myself. It was time to walk the walk again.
I was eager to embark on the course of composting and acquired bins from Daily Dump on Amazon. I began informing my children about what the compost bin did and told them what could go into it. To my surprise, they were fascinated with the idea and were thrilled that we would create ‘plant food’ from our household waste!
I showed my students my compost bin, and once again, they were delighted to know I was as enthusiastic as they were to learn new things. I regularly update them about my composting journey.
I don’t need my students to compost themselves, but I need them to see me trying to do my bit.Tweet
Buying in bulk/plastic free
We identified a store in Gurgaon that sells organic produce in bulk called ‘Adrish’. We take our bottles/jars to the shop and fill them up with grocery goodness. The products are weighed and billed according to the amount taken, resulting in a zero-waste transaction. Ninety percent of our plastic waste consists of food packaging, so we hope to make this a regular activity to cut out as much waste as possible.
The importance of ‘Teacher Action’-
If we want to see our students grow into humans who care about the planet, we need to show them that we are also prepared to make those adjustments. Change is always challenging. The older we get, the more relaxed we become in ‘the way it has always been’. We need to break out of that comfort zone and lead by example. I can see how my sons have become aware of the planet’s needs through simple practices implemented in our household. At the very least, I have hopefully shown them the significance of caring for our world. Then, in a class of twenty, even if a few take climate change and our contribution to it seriously, I would feel satisfied. I would like to believe that teacher action is a beginning. Not just the beginning of inspiration for students, but as a step towards inner transformation.