Small Footprints gave us a great challenge this week at Reduce Footprints. It’s very different from her regular Wednesday posts, and one I had to sit with a while before writing. I visited a couple of the other blogs which follow along to see what directions they took just to make sure my response would add something of real value to this dialogue. Now here I am with my thoughts on the matter.
I’m not talking about schools as I don’t have the power to change the way our schools educate, I’ve tried. I was active in my sons’ school (before pulling them out and home schooling). I was a classroom parent, which is a teachers helper, I helped staff a writing program in the elementary school which allowed children to write stories after which we typed them up and turned them into books made from cereal boxes and contact paper. I attended school board meetings and I even joined the PTO for our school. But nothing I did changed the way the schools teach our children or helped to add the subjects that our children so need to learn to be good stewards of the earth.
This week please consider human rights as it relates to the environment. A good place to start is by reading The Human Right to A Safe and Healthy Environment.
Leave a comment below or write a post discussing our environmental rights, whether or not they are being realized and how we, as individuals, can help maintain or realize them.
The next lesson my children learned was to also look at the extra packaging that came with so many of the products sold and to find alternatives. One of the biggest differences in the amount of trash a household will produce results from shopping thrift shops and other second-hand stores. My boys as teens enjoyed video games on days stuck in the house. They didn’t get into the shoot ‘um up games, but rather ones like Civilization which is about World History and others of that genre along with the Madden Football games for my youngest, our jock. :-) The packaging that comes with these games, whether for the computer or gaming consoles, is such a waste. But by shopping the game store outlets they were able to reduce this waste and save money.
My boys learned to care for and even repair the items they owned. Everything from learning to build computers from discarded parts to working on vehicles was part of our lives. When I remodeled an older home, my boys were right there with me, learning to measure, cut, and hang drywall. Learning how to insulate walls, and so much more.
While my children are grown and have families of their own, my responsibility to educating youth has not ended. The challenges are even bigger than I knew when I was a mother. I am living in a unique time and place to carry on a task that I feel is very important. I have the time to show by example. I have made friends with my neighbors who range in age from 19 to 74 and especially enjoy the conversations I get to have with the university students.
These students are so open to learning and enjoy picking my brain on my views of many subjects that involves politics to education to environmental issues. I don’t preach, that’s not my style. Instead, I will ask questions of them in reply to their own questions to give them the opportunity to find the answers themselves.
If you read my blog on even a semi-regular basis you can probably answer for yourself what I believe is important to teach to the youth today. As I’ve pondered this subject this afternoon, the following topics kept coming up on the subject of EDUCATION.
- What are healthy foods and why should we avoid the junk and GMOs
- Why growing our own food and supplementing that with locally produced food is important
- Why frequenting farmer’s markets is important
- Why we need to be concerned about the amount of trash we throw out
- Why learning life skills such as gardening, sewing and home repairs is necessary
- Why we need to explore nature and respect the wildlife we share the earth with
- Why we need to support local businesses rather than the big box stores
- Why buying used is better than new
- Why we should embrace smaller homes
- How shopping the big box and malls violates the rights of others and pollutes our planet
I could probably go on, this list is endless. We can’t change society through mandates from government or by force, but only through education. One thing I learned as a mother and then as their teacher is that children learn best by first having a question. John Holt once said, “We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions — if they have any — and helping them explore the things they are most interested in.
I can see the confusion my grandson has with the different messages he receives from adults. He has a grandparent who buys him all the most expensive gifts to have available when he visits, but he also has no television or big toys when he visits me. He has nature, puzzles, experiences of going bowling, eating at the local businesses for special occasions, visiting the library and shopping the thrift stores. Which will he end up embracing? Only time can tell and I can only share my world with him. I can’t compare my lifestyle to his other grandparent and impress that my ways are better, I have no right to make those judgements and impress them on my grandson. I can only show him this is what makes me happy and that I am happy to share these things with him.
This is what I believe is true education and the only way to make real change. I answer questions and pose questions in response, I embrace my values and hope another will notice something in what I do that makes sense to them or possibly causes them to question an aspect of their life to make a change that will enhance both their life and the health of the world around them.
It doesn’t matter if your child attends a school or is home schooled, what matters is what they learn in the home. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent or not, but it does matter what you chose to embrace and let others see what is important to you. We never stop learning and that is the one thing I believe humanity has going for it. We can be 5 or 50, or even 80 we are still learning something each day. By letting others see our passions, question us to see why we are so passionate we can be the spark that lights a new movement toward a better life for all.