The Daily Planet: inspiring kids to be Supermen?

October 5, 2007 at 10:45 am | Posted in Children, Climate action, Climate change, Communication, Framing science, Honesty, Kids, Optimism, Students | Leave a comment

I could write a book on conversations with kids about climate change. For now, all I have time to do is a quick post, which is really a comment I made in response to a blog post on Edutopia’s Truth and Consequences: Teaching Global Warming Doesn’t Have to Spell ‘Fear’ a minute ago, and am copying here for you to read too, after verifying these points with my own sons whose ages straddle fifth graders’ by one year 🙂

You are a generation too late! Your penultimate paragraph says:

“The bigger point was to consider what one might say of their generation seventy years from now. I talked of their destiny, at least as I see it, saying that their generation will be the one to develop solutions and help us understand how to live in a changing world. They would do so, in part, because they must. We talked of what it might feel like to be part of such a cause, or to know that their generation and their country would be leading an effort to help protect the planet.”

I agree with the advice to provide a framework to kids as well as suggesting a few specific actions to get them started. However, there is one point that needs to be repeated again and again:

THIS generation—MY generation—OUR ADULT GENERATION—is working as hard as we can to combat climate change.

If we are not, we need to tell kids why not. If we are too selfish, too lazy, or too busy to be bothered to be heroes ourselves, we should tell kids that too. We owe them our honesty.

If kids ask “How is your generation tackling climate change?” we need to tell them what we are doing at work and at home, and what all the adults we know are doing about it, and how many expert scientists are providing the information we need to understand the problem, and how many expert engineers are designing and producing solutions to combat climate change.

If kids ask “What are you doing about climate change yourself?” each adult should then be able to rattle off a list of ways in which he has reduced his own carbon footprint and that of his family. It is not good enough to tell children “Lucky you! Your generation will have all the excitement of dealing with our climate challenge.” if we are not prepared to let them see how excited we are ourselves at the opportunities this new era affords.

If we cannot answer those questions honestly and explain how we have made a difference already by reducing our carbon footprints at home and at work, and how we intend to do more of the same, my generation of adults deserves the contempt of kids today.

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