Cheryl Lousley’s excellent article, “(De)Politicizing the Environment Club” cautions educators to look carefully at the implicit curriculum of environmental action in schools. Will students be told, implicitly or explicitly, to stay away from more controversial topics? Will they be allowed to “tackle” recycling programs and litter clean–up days, for example (which do not problematise the ethics of a disposable, consumption–oriented society), but not allowed to question the purchasing practices of the school or the operational practices of a local business? Students learn as much from what they are told to do as what they are told not to do.
Providing students with a safe place in which to authentically question the status quo is important to their development as critical citizens and is important to the process of creating healthy, fair, communities for everyone.
Students at the Peel Children’s Water Festival learn about GIS technology.
Water Action Projects—Some Suggestions
Do a water audit at your school. Analyze and consider all of the costs (financial and otherwise) of treating and distributing the water.
Compare your class’s water use and related issues with those in a sister class in another country.
Create maps of your class’s own personal water cycle (where does the school water come from? Where does it go? Where does the rainwater go?) Discuss the implications of this cycle (for example, where is the water at risk of becoming contaminated?)
Explore the creek/pond/river/lake closest to your school. Map its features and share it with the wider community. Discuss what your map could be used for (for example, at a town council meeting to persuade the council to protect the area.)
Learn about the use of pesticides in your schoolyard and in local parks. Where do the pesticides go? What impact do they have on human and other-than-human health?
Learn about the contaminants of your local creek/pond/river/lake and educate the community about how to avoid them.
Learn about the impact of bottled water on the community where it is bottled, on the community where it is consumed and on the community where the plastic bottles go.
Learn about and participate in projects to rehabilitate a local body of water. Contact local groups like the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the local Conservation Authority, etc. to see what is already going on. Piggyback!
Learn about the “official plan” for your community. Check to see if local wetlands will be protected. If not, educate others about why they should be. Peel’s Regional Official Plan can be seen at: www.peelregion.ca/officialplan
Raise funds for water projects in other countries. For example, visit:
Learn about how the sale of bulk quantities of fresh water could impact local and global communities. Test the water chemistry of your drinking water supply and assess the quality of the water in your community.