Time To Clear-cut Paper Mache Rainforest

Time To Clear-cut Paper Mache Rainforest

What comes to mind when you hear Earth Day and education? Do you see endangered species posters? Or perhaps a paper mache rainforest? Such projects can be fun. But focusing on exotic animals and ‘wild’ places sends the message that the environment is a place both far away and without people. That keeps kids from understanding a vital fact: humans are part of the environment. Understanding this starts with learning about one’s own place. Can the student who draws a rainforest toucan identify a bird that’s native to the local ecosystem? Can the student who made a cardboard tree name an indigenous tribe that inhabits the forest? I wonder.  Is it time to clear-cut the paper mache rainforest? Not necessarily. But let’s raise the bar. Environmental literacy is an essential 21st century skill that will determine life in the 22nd century. Our kids deserve the best we can give them.   Looking for ideas? Contact me for inspiring examples or helpful...
The Economics Curriculum To Kids: Crime Pays

The Economics Curriculum To Kids: Crime Pays

Crime is good. So are accidents, lawsuits, illness and divorce. Sound crazy? This is the logic of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—and the message kids are getting from most economics curriculum. The GDP is the total market value of goods and services produced and consumed. The GDP rises every time money is spent, regardless of the social or environmental impacts. For example, in 2014, prostitution added about £4.3billion to the United Kingdom’s economy, while illegal drugs added £6.7billion. The GDP is revered as perhaps the indicator of progress. Economic growth means things are getting better . . . right? Not quite. That’s because the GPD also ignores the value of non-monetized activities such as volunteering or parenting. The GDP also ignore the value of the vital services provided by the environment, including pollination by bees or the production of oxygen by plants. Granted, the GDP was never designed to measure overall wellbeing. But that means we need to stop blindly worshipping growth. We need to prioritize more holistic indicators that consider society and the environment. The good news is that world leaders are doing just that. Consider the European Union’s Beyond GDP initiative, or the Gross National Happiness Index. These measures give a clearer picture of ‘progress’ and challenge the assumption that economic growth is unequivocally beneficial. We need a new generation of citizens and leaders who can shift the economic narrative. And this takes committed educators who can shift the economics curriculum. When we teach kids that increasing GPD is the priority, we’re saying that what it measures (even crime) is valuable. Instead, we need to focus on...