Students and citizens in the Comox Valley took to the streets of downtown Courtenay Friday afternoon as part of the local Climate Action March Strike. Photo by Erin Haluschak

EDITORIAL: A ‘teachable’ moment in history

Nothing to lose when students strive to learn from real world issues

School District 71 joined other jurisdictions throughout the province in permitting students to miss classes to attend the Courtenay climate strike on Sept. 27. It was the right thing to do.

Like it or not, climate change has emerged as one of the big issues of 2019, thanks to the eloquent activism of 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, which has struck a resonant chord with millions – both young and old – around the world.

In a refreshing change – for once – self-aggrandizing elderly politicians are neither determining the narrative or setting the agenda although, predictably, they, and those who share their rapidly hardening social/political arteries, are having a hard time with it.

But no matter where you stand politically, it’s a very ‘teachable’ moment in world history, and environmental issues are already deeply embedded in B.C.’s school’s curriculum.

It’s worth noting that the school district has not created a blanket holiday for today. Superintendent Tom Demeo recommended that the students “engage in meaningful discussion regarding this very important topic with their teachers, their parents and will apprise their families of their intended plan of action,” and noted attendance records will be kept.

Some cynical naysayers insist that it’s a vast left-wing plot to allow indolent youth a chance to goof off. That, in itself, is absurd. Kids skip school to go skiing, or hang out at the lake. They don’t skip school to protest and demand change.

At very least, some young people got out of the classroom into the real world, breathed some fresh air, and were forced to contemplate – even as, theoretically, they plotted to exploit a few hours of free time – the impact of what has rapidly turned into a global political movement.

If our goal is to make the education of our children more relevant – aiming at mentoring adults who are better informed and more involved in society – we should not be limiting their opportunities to learn from real world issues.

(adapted from a Peace Arch News editorial)

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