Environmental education has been returned to B.C’s education curriculum, thanks in large part to the efforts of Sierra Club BC and its supporters. The news is being widely celebrated by educators, parents, and concerned citizens as positively impacting the lives of learners – and the health of our natural environment – for years to come.
Sierra Club BC, alongside other leaders in Environmental Education, discovered that ecological principles and key earth science systems were largely absent from the new B.C. curriculum. When this first curriculum draft was released in early 2014, the absence of environmental education was significant. How can we collectively foster an eco-literate society without teaching students to value and protect healthy ecosystems, to think and act sustainably, or about the differences between renewable and non-renewable resources?
In response, Sierra Club BC wrote to the Ministry of Education about the value of environmental education and launched a petition advocating for it to be reinstated in the new B.C. curriculum. Over 7,000 people signed the petition, shared it with their networks, and wrote to the Minister of Education.
The outcry resulted in a first victory: the development of a new curriculum team to revise the science curriculum. The team included experts in environmental education – teachers who actively incorporate environmental education in and beyond their classrooms, as well as representatives from environmental education organizations in B.C. The team ensured environmental education content was integrated at each grade level and that the concepts of environmental responsibility and stewardship were reincorporated throughout.
It is vitally important for students, educators, and our environment that environmental education remains a strong component of B.C.’s education curriculum. Environmental education teaches children about natural systems and helps them to understand human activity as part of the natural world. Further, the curriculum has been strengthened and adapted to a 21st century context, including more attention on place-based learning, key ecological concepts, environmental processes and connections to human life and society. As the Ministry of Education writes, by taking a place-based approach to learning, the new B.C. science curriculum, “provides a basis for an intuitive relationship with and respect for the natural world; connections to their ecosystem and community; and a sense of relatedness that encourages lifelong harmony with nature.”
The revised education curriculum provides an excellent starting place for teachers who want their students to investigate environmental issues like climate change, habitat loss, and conservation. Sierra Club BC continues to play a role in supporting educators to meet and exceed curriculum standards and to foster students who understand their responsibilities to the natural systems that support us.
To find out more about our environmental education program, please visit: https://sierraclub.bc.ca/education.