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BPS educational psychologist backs students’ call for changes to school curriculum to reflect climate crisis

05 March 2020

A leading educational psychologist has backed a call for changes to the school curriculum in response to the climate crisis.

Dr Dan O’Hare, joint chair elect of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Educational and Child Psychology, says:

“It is vital that children and young people are empowered to participate in debates and influence policy that will have far-reaching implications for their future.

Young people involved in climate-related action are explicitly challenging us to answer the question ‘what is education for?’ It's a conversation that needs to happen in the light of rapid climate change.

They are questioning the purpose of a narrowing, exams-focused curriculum and its utility for a future which looks uncertain.”

The new youth-led campaign Teach the Future has held a meeting at Westminster to launch its climate emergency education bill.

It calls for teacher training to ensure a minimum standard of knowledge about climate change and its impact, and a national fund to help young people’s voices be heard.

Dr O’Hare says:

“Psychologists recognise that fear and anxiety over climate change are increasing for children and young people.

These fears need to be addressed directly but sensitively, with consideration given to each child's level of understanding.

There is a real need for us, as adults, to empathise and validate children's emotional experiences in the face of a future that looks uncertain and frightening.”

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