Mr. Rogers and teaching kids about climate change


While this blog publishes a lot of articles that can be  quite depressing when placed in context, I feel a need to make sure that we here on the Peninsula get the big picture. You the reader can edit them out yourself. However, there is  discussion I’ve heard about being positive, especially for younger audiences, tailoring the message. That is a good idea. Greta Thurnberg is championing waking up the teens. But as she said, she suffered from depression when coming to grips with it. No one in her family or school apparently understood how to communicate the message to her.

This article in Grist, below, and also the recent documentary film about Fred Rogers (not the Tom Hanks movie) are worth considering.

My goal, when talking to anyone about climate change, is to establish rapport that

  • It is here and happening now, not something coming in the future. Younger audiences can be told how we are the beginning of weather changes that they will continue to see as they grow up. And that they can do things, to help make the changes go better.
  • Focus on what people can do. Children like being included. Pick up trash on the beach, don’t throw bags in the water, etc. Small things build their ability to understand larger things later.
  • Ask adults what they think they can do that could make a difference. Fly less? Drive less? Become more politically active?

Fred Rogers was a master of communicating hard news to children. In fact, as the movie states, “He was radical”. His taking on issues of assassination, death, violence and divorce, were well thought out and researched in advance. I recommend this movie to anyone that teaches young children. If you never really gave Mr. Rogers any thought, this will be an eye opener.

Grist also just published the following article.

Life as an outdoor educator might seem like it’s all fun and games — romping around outside, playing games, looking at bugs — until it comes to talking to 9-year-olds about climate change.

“They want to talk about it, but it can be hard sometimes,” Ian Schooley said with a laugh. He spent four years teaching visiting fourth and fifth graders at the Pacific Science Center’s Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center about the wetland ecosystems just outside of Seattle. Wetlands are a unique habitat that filters water, sucks up carbon dioxide, and protects our coasts — but the triple threat of sea-level rise, pollution, and development is putting them at risk.

When teaching kids about climate change, don’t be a downer

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