Lauren McClanahan is a professor at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, USA — quite close to where I live. In her quest to help her student teachers understand the climate change emergency, she called on the voices of students in a small village in Alaska. In Educating Heather, McClanahan explains how she found a way to connect the hearts of her students to the climate change crisis:
No doubt my preservice secondary education student, Heather, is familiar with the topic of climate change. Everywhere we look, we see media coverage. But there still seems to be something missing. There still appears to be a disconnect, for my preservice teachers, anyway, between what they read about online and what they see in their day-to-day lives. And this has huge implications for their futures as public school teachers. One way to address this disconnect has been to put a face to the topic of climate change. By connecting all of my "Heathers" to students who live in places where climate change is having actual, observable effects, a topic that was once only theoretical to many of my students becomes real.She explains that her students probably believe themselves to be "green," but when it comes to the catastrophic changes happening in the Arctic, for example, her students just don't see them. The "First Person Singular" project she undertook gave voice to thawing permafrost, disappearing fish stocks, changing migratory routes, and an unravelling subsistence culture that has lasted for thousands of years.
I won't say too much more. The article is beautifully written and evocative. Please read it!
And let's start looking for ways to help people really see and hear what's happening to those already impacted by climate chaos in the most climate-change-vulnerable regions of the world.