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Climate change is here: Teachers’ and students’ perceptions about education for It

Climate change is the greatest threat humans have ever faced. The unprecedented anthropogenic activity impacting on the environment is having catastrophic effects across the globe and could continue for thousands of years. Mitigation to prevent further environmental harm and adaptation to the already-changing conditions are essential strategies in addressing climate change and, therefore, education for these strategies is imperative. Educators have an opportunity to prepare our learners with the knowledge and skills they will need to combat the impacts and effects of climate change. Climate change education offers young people a chance to develop their knowledge, critical and creative thinking and problem-solving skills while building their resilience and adaptive capacity to act in this crisis. But are our young people getting these learning opportunities? This was an interpretive study that focused on the perceptions of climate change and climate change education of students, teachers and leaders at a secondary school in the Waikato region of New Zealand. A mix of quantitative and qualitative data was gathered by using an on-line questionnaire and focus groups with students and semi-structured interviews with their teachers and leaders. The data were divided into four sections: beliefs, knowledge, attitudes and actions for both the student data and the teachers’ and leaders’ data, and were thematically analysed using NVivo. The data clearly showed in this study that the students were worried about how climate change was going to affect their future lives and the lives of the people closest to them and most wanted to change their behaviour and take action to try and reduce the effects of a changing climate. In order to do this, the students wanted to learn more about climate change, raise their awareness, and the awareness in their community, so that everybody could be prepared for the changing climate. The findings indicated that the teachers all agreed that climate change education is important for students and wanted to know more about climate change so they could inform their students about climate change through education. The leaders indicated that it is vital that the students’ are thoroughly prepared for the changing climate and a change in behaviour, but they also felt that the teachers needed to be supported as well, and not just those teaching about climate change, but to make sure everyone is prepared for an uncertain future. This study recommends the Ministry of Education to firstly, consider how climate change education can be made available to all children and young people, and then to provide guidance on how educators in schools and teacher education throughout New Zealand could teach about climate change to all our learners.
Type of thesis
Bevins, P. A. (2020). Climate change is here: Teachers’ and students’ perceptions about education for It (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13954
The University of Waikato
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