The world’s youth rallied in the year 2023, which made it one of the years that saw global environmental protests. Around Six million demonstrators took to the streets of their schools and workplaces during an entire week of protests and strikes in the late September, urging governments to tackle the growing environmental crisis.
People’s anger at the lack of action of politicians and corporate leaders regarding the climate crisis is evident. What else is required to be done if we’re serious about taking action in order to ” disrupt the system,” as climate activists such as Greta Thunberg have demanded?
The need to change and reinvent our society lies at the heart of our efforts in tackling climate change and education within the school of Education in McGill University. One concrete project that can achieve this goal is to implement an approach of community partnerships for establishing and sustaining school community gardens. Through this and other projects we plan to improve the Quebec education system in order so that students are better prepared (and us) for an ever-changing, uncertain and unpredictable world.
Beehives and a garden are part of McGill University’s Faculty of Education. (Blane Harvey), Author provided
Learning across different settings
The proponents of what’s known as “systems leadership” argue that leaders should help people work across various systems to address complicated issues such as climate change. They emphasize the importance of attentive listening and the ability to look through other’s eyes, which encourages the openness that is needed for new ideas to develop.
A fundamental change is required to deal with the growing impacts of climate change. This transformation requires much more than simply education studies or policies from the government all by itself.
Read more: Teaching young people what really matters for the sake of our collective life on Earth
Rather, we need strategies for harnessing our collective wisdom and learning together across settings and disciplines. Collaboration between the private sector, members of the wider public, and researchers is imperative.
Unfortunately, a lot of our institutions are splintered and hierarchical. They are not well-equipped to collaborate and adapt necessary to create collective transformation. What next steps can we take? Based on the latest research and experiments, We have two paths that are closely connected ahead.
In the Cedar Street Elementary School in Beloeil, an area of Montreal, kindergarten and grade 4 students collaborated to plant seeds in order to produce food, with the intention of sharing the food with the local community. (Shutterstock)
Concentrate on bright spots
Climate change is often compared to icebergs, which are huge in size and hard to evaluate. If we shift our focus to smaller, more concrete challenges or shining areas we can build the relationships, strategies for working, and the insights that will aid us in solving larger problems.
Gardening in schools is a method to get students involved in studying their environment including food production, global environmental changes. Teachers, just like their students, are eager to integrate the tools of sustainability and climate change and subjects into their classes. However, they’re constrained by a lack of funding and administrative assistance, a lack of the necessary preparation to teach about these issues, and a lack of clarity about how they’ll fit into the rigorously standardized curriculum expectations.
This is why the efforts of these teachers are usually relegated to optional or extracurricular initiatives led by a tiny handful of teachers working out of themselves (not to speak of using their own time and resources).
School-Community Garden Institute
In partnership in partnership with LEARN Quebec, We co-host The School Community Garden Institute. The gatherings bring together teachers as well as educational support personnel research, non-profits, researchers, and companies from all over Montreal to share their knowledge and information on how to create and maintain gardens.
The School-Community Garden Institute meets to exchange information. (Blane Harvey), Author provided
The participants were keen on growing and enhancing their gardens as well as their relationships and expanding their knowledge about using greens to teach and learn. They wanted to meet other people who shared the same interests.