This week, I reported on environmental education in Kentucky–who’s doing it, what challenges they’re facing, and how it affects student performance. While on assignment, I discovered that the Jefferson County Public School system is unveiling two new environmental studies magnet programs at Cane Run and Portland elementary schools. Also, six JCPS high schools currently offer AP level environmental science classes.
And of course, there are teachers throughout the district plugging environmental topics into their classes—whether through science, field trips, or language arts. Take Marsha Buerger’s 1st period reading class at Farnsley Middle School, which I visited on a day kids were defending their ideas about the environment and the extraction of natural resources.
In preparation for that particular lesson, Buerger asked students to write about their relationship to the earth, a kind of autobiography of themselves and the earth. Here are a few excerpts, courtesy of Marsha Buerger, from some very colorful responses to that assignment.
Essays from Farnsley Middle School:
“Have you ever had a fever? The earth has a fever now. How? You asked, well it is the pollution, this fever is what is killing things, the o-zone layer is no longer there think about what happened to it, is it you? Ok just say we call the o-zone layer your skin and your skin and it just died off, or the pollution is a deadly virus and it is eating all of your cells then what will you do, would you try to stop it? Yes you would. So just try to stop the pollution the like you would with the deadly virus.
Have you ever been to the Ohio River? Have you seen what’s in it? All the dead fish are from the items we throw in the sewer that the recycling sewer company can not handle. The fish are dyeing because of the items such as bottles, caps, balls, chemical acids, straws and so much more. Now think were your water comes from the Ohio River. Do you want to drink or bath in that water? No so don’t throw such items listed above on the streets or sewers.” – Tori C.
“For example, if global warming continues there will be no more artic wild life and when they are gone the whole food chain could be disturbed. Also with over fishing, hunting, and poachers we could completely extinct the animal kingdom; some people think we could be vegetarians, that would be okay but if we pave everything then there is no soil to plant crops there for we well all die! I know I can’t speak for the earth and what it goes through and neither can you but we can try, by putting ourselves in the earth’s shoes. Many humans plant one tree and never plant another because they think they just saved a rain forest. Planting a tree does help a lot but don’t think that one tree is all our environment needs to survive.” – Alexis V.
“I believe that because of how I have gone outside a lot when I was younger I have created a good relationship with the earth. It is a lot of fun for me to go outside. I enjoy hiking, swimming, canoeing, and many more things outside.
Because of the fun I have had outside, I believe we should do every thing to find ways to save the earth. For instance, my family and I recycle a lot to help save the environment. By doing small things you can make a big difference.
My family and I also compost. In this way we help make the landfills stay unfilled. Composting, like recycling, help preserve the earth’s resources. We also try not to turn on the air conditioner when you can open windows instead.” – Adrick T.