Sunday, December 7, 2008

Green Education: The Next Big Thing?

Our world is dying and people start to care for its survival. The effort to preserve nature becomes increasingly important all over the world. People try many different approaches to accomplish the preservation of nature. There is this recycling effort, also the promotion of energy saving, alternative energy source, green architecture design, reforestation, and many more. Former US Vice President, Al Gore, is working very hard to create awareness of the fact of global warming. Many people have agreed that we need to take care of our planet as the effect of our neglect of it is unimaginable for our next generation. I will not discuss the dying of our planet in this article, but instead I will swift gear directly to the role of education in the effort to make earth “green” again.

If it is true that our world is dying and the planet earth is in its greatest need for our care, then it is not enough to just work on greening our planet now without also educating our children on how to continue the baton. This is where the role of education cannot be dismissed. Some universities have declared their effort for the so called “Green Education.” Green education is more than just using materials that are safe for earth, including the green school building, less use of paper, and so on, but green education struggles with educating the young of the importance of our nature. To educate our children properly we need to have the right perspective toward nature.

The perspective from the book of Genesis shows that God gave the authority to humans to govern the world. There is no indication that humans are allowed to exploit or manipulate the earth. This world belongs to God and humans are his stewards, and thus humans are accountable to God. It is important to underline that humans are not the owner of this world, but that we are entrusted to take care of the world that God created and owns. For a very long time, our species have exploited our planet knowing full well that consequences are unbearable for our children. Our exploitation and our uncaring have caused some species to be extinct, or the loss of hundred of millions of rainforests, or the widening of the ozone layer hole, or the increasing pollution of air and water, or sharp increase in natural disasters, or more genetic mutation. Perhaps this is the time to remind us again of the old Word of God that humans are stewards of the almighty God and therefore it is only natural that we take care of this earth responsibly. And perhaps this is the time to start educating our children to be God’s stewards in this earth.

How, then, we do this so called green education? Two most important things we need to tackle. First, we need to educate ourselves so we can change our bad behavior and start caring for our world. Our changed behavior is the key to the second task, that is to teach our children how to care our planet. If we don’t do what we preach, then it is like telling our children “Don’t smoke!” while the cigarette is on our lips. All educators know that the most effective learning method is “Modeling.” We teach our children to have a good character by being good ourselves. These two are the key to the success of green education. I myself, as an educator, am planning on the design of green education curriculum for formal education, K-12 and higher education level.

Now, is green education the next big thing? I think it is but at the same time I would say that green education has been neglected for a very very long time. It is in a sense new but also as old as humans’ history. Our study of science, for example, is not just for the sake of science, but it should aim at the betterment of humanity and our stewardship duty as proclaimed in Genesis 1. But how? We need to start thinking about this and begin to create a better curriculum for our children, and our children’s children. Would you? Would we? I would. How about you?

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