Teachers: we have climate-anxious youngsters, but can we do something about it

Below is an excerpt from an article that I wrote for ‘The Phoenix’, a newletter by climate journalist Eric Holthaus, which focusses “most closely on humanizing this planetary emergency: being transparent about the challenges we’re facing and the complex emotions we’re all feeling, and being honest about what we need to do to radically transform our society.”

Why does an individual become a teacher, and what is their number one priority? Is it to pass on knowledge of something that they are passionate about? Is it to give youngsters the best possible opportunities to fulfill their potential? I can’t speak for every single teacher. However, from my own experience, is that while passion and aspiration-raising are significant parts of a teacher’s identity, nurturing and protecting young people is fundamental. This loco-parentis aspect of the job is called ‘safeguarding’. 

Through various jobs in education, I’m pretty clued up on safeguarding practice and policy. When I combine this with my experience working in the climate science sector, it is very clear to me that climate change is a safeguarding issue. I have laid out my case via teachers conferences, radio and podcast appearances, articles and blog posts. Our students are being directly affected by the impacts of the climate crisis, and the growing robustness of climate attribution science is one source of evidence that this is the case. 

One of those impacts is on our mental health. If you have not yet read Eric’s candid piece from 26th April about climate anxiety, then I strongly recommend you do so. But what about our children? In March 2021, a report titled The Rise of Eco-Anxiety was released by Force of Nature, a non-profit that works to empower young people to ‘climate agency’. Responses from over 500 students in 52 countries saw that over 70% experienced a ‘feeling of hopelessness when they thought about climate change’. Poor mental health as a result of environmental degradation and climate change is real.

To read the rest of the article and other thought-provoking essays, head over and subscribe to The Phoenix.

The banner image is original art produced for ‘The Phoenix’ by Laila Arêde.

Citing this post (for the full article on The Phoenix):

APA: Rackley, K. (2021, June 15). Teachers: we have climate-anxious youngsters, but can we do something about it. Retrieved from https://thephoenix.substack.com/p/safeguarding-an-ethos-for-teachers-e83

MLA: Rackley, Kit. “Teachers: we have climate-anxious youngsters, but can we do something about it”. The Phoenix. 12 Jun. 2021, https://thephoenix.substack.com/p/safeguarding-an-ethos-for-teachers-e83

Harvard: Rackley, K. (2021). Teachers: we have climate-anxious youngsters, but can we do something about it [Online]. The Phoenix. Available at: https://thephoenix.substack.com/p/safeguarding-an-ethos-for-teachers-e83 (Accessed: day month year)

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