Catching them young

Miscellany

Catching them young

Catching them young

The ‘catching them young’ mantra can be put to good use; to create eco-awareness among children and to ensure that environment-friendly practices find greater acceptance in the long run. After all, the next generation will need to be much more aware and proactive about saving the planet.

Leo Saldanha, coordinator at the not-for-profit organisation Environment Support Group (ESG), believes that through healthy interaction, parents and teachers can leverage a child’s natural curiosity, observational skills and questioning process to create greater awareness. In the past, ESG has conducted several workshops for both students and teachers on a number of environmental issues. Says Saldanha, “The main challenge of environmental education is that it is now being ‘taught’ as a subject. While the emphasis on environmental aspects is welcome, it is still a ‘third class’ subject, compared to the learning of subjects like Physics, Math, etc.”

Outside the classroom

Saldanha suggests substituting classroom learning with having actual interactions outdoors. “We need to take children outside the classroom, beyond the limits of their school, into different natural habitats. This will help them realise how interdependent we all are. It is crucial to assist them to respond to various environmental concerns they observe around them.”

He concludes on an urgent note, “The state of our planet demands us to re-evaluate our relationship with her on an urgent basis, and schools and families are the best place to start this journey.” For Mallesh Tigali, proprietor of Purna Organics, sustainable practices like organic farming have always been a passion. Tigali teaches school children the value of growing an organic garden on their own rooftop or terrace. He reveals he believes in reaching out to students and instructing them not by rote but by actually experimenting. Says  Tigali, “I believe the best way to make children learn something is not by asking them to repeat something ten times, but by showing them the ‘why’ of it.

If they see, experience or understand why a certain thing is helpful, they will develop a passion for learning more about it automatically. And then teaching them the theory actually becomes much easier since now they themselves want to know more.”

Tigali works with schools where he helps students grow their own organic vegetables which they can later take home. Adds Tigali, “Along with conveying the benefits of organic farming, we also help instil a love for gardening by discussing various practical aspects. Students immediately respond to practical tips like soaking seeds of some vegetables for a day before sowing them, to help the plant grow faster.

If parents and teachers talk to the students without trying to teach too much too quickly, students are bound to appreciate the various aspects of organic farming and environment-friendly practices.” Educating children about the myriad current environmental issues is the world’s best bet against the ecological dangers of the future. 
CEE initiative

Paryavaran Mitra, an initiative of the government-supported Centre for Environment Education (CEE), works with school students to help create a future generation of environment champions. The programme aims to create 20 million young green leaders by focussing on eco awareness and action. As part of this initiative, CEE launched the ‘Science Express’, a state-of-the-art environment-based exhibition on wheels, in 2007. The exhibition moves across India and is primarily targeted at students.   

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