Nonfiction in response to Partnerships for the Goals
Partnering with Schools
By Grace Muresan
To achieve all 16 goals, the United Nations put forth the 17th goal which encourages collaboration between public and private sector to achieve the goals.
Schools, public or private, play an important role to help achieve this 17th goal. They should prepare the future generation, such as myself, to be aware of and generate ideas to achieve the goals.
In my science class, my teacher organized a Climate Change Summit. First, we had about a week to create a poster about a climate change mitigation strategy, such as reforestation, carbon removal tech, or switching to cleaner energy source. Then we gathered to look at each other’s poster, noting the good parts and the drawbacks to each strategy. Once we were finished, we stood in a group of the mitigation strategy we believed was the best for the Bay Area, then had a debate arguing about why our mitigation strategy was the best. 63 kids attended.
Solutions that were discussed to combat climate change were reforestation, carbon removal technology, electric vehicles, reducing people’s carbon footprint, geothermal, biomass, solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear energy, respectively.
Some may pass this as just another way to teach children about the Earth and our environment, so it doesn’t matter if you just give them a chapter in a textbook to study then give them a test or hold a Summit and debate for the student.
However, you may forget how this world, as it is, with all its problems will be passed down to us. Our generation. Sure, you may say that we will learn about these problems later in life. But we cannot. The average age of a U.S. senator is 53, but the goals need to be accomplished by 2030, in about 10 years. And if they aren’t fulfilled, then by 2050, when most world-ending predictions are announced, these kids will be around 40, starting a family and career of their own, living in a world where most of the fish stocks that existed in 2015 are extinct, nearly 2 billion people will live in countries with absolute water scarcity, 5 billion of the world's projected 9.7 billion people will live in water-stressed areas, the rise in global temperatures, above pre-industrial levels, will be 2 degrees Celsius, and the global community needs to produce at least 50 percent more food than we do today.
Educating children about climate change and general problems with the Earth is the only way to ensure that the human race will survive. Reading a textbook and taking tests have been the most rational, normal way for a child to learn something necessary. Students are taught what they need to know, according to the teachers, based on a set of curriculums that are designed by experienced educators. But we have come to a point in time where practice is literally more practical than theories. Children must go through with the actions. After learning the statistics, the theories, and histories of all that caused the 17 goals being proposed in the first place, children need to be inspired and motivated to do their parts, to ensure the success of achieving those goals. In real life, after school, we aren’t going to fix the world by regurgitating information that we are taught by the past generation. The iPhone was invented with new, fresh ideas. So were solar cells. Same with energy-saving cars, and 3D printed homes. New problems in a progressing world require new, intuitive ideas.
School is where children ages 6-18 years old spend most of their time of the day. School can enforce the practical aspects of textbook and theories that children must learn in order to get good grades. They do teach children important things that may be used in real life, but learning in new, creative ways leads to new, creative styles and innovations to solve the problems of the world.
In science class, children can think of a more efficient way to desalinate salt water so it’s drinkable, or propose techniques for garnering solar energy using daily household materials. In Social Studies, children can think of different approaches that local government can do in order to combat poverty and promote sustainable cities and communities. In Language Arts, children can be taught to communicate their ideas to the country and community leaders on how to achieve the 17 goals, in the new ways they figured out.
As problems evolve and change and develop over time, so should our fixes. The world is handed down generation to generation, and if we want to hand the world to the next generation as a place to live and thrive and innovate the future without them having to worry about running out of water or needing gas masks to walk outside, we need schools to cultivate the creativity in our youngest generation.