NEWS AND VIEWS: Tim Smit, 66, the creator of the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, said that if natural history was taught in schools from the age of 5 to the age of 19, people would not damage the planet as they do now. That, in my view, pretty much sums up this article. The GCSE would include work in the field so it would be a real hands-on qualification. The course would also include how humankind is impacting nature and harming the wild species.
The new course might include studying a colony of breeding kittiwakes nesting at Tyneside Bridge, for example (writes Hannah Al-Othman of The Times). The Times article today states that schools in Eastbourne and East Sussex are already participating in projects to re-wild parts of the town with the goal of improving conditions for the Chalkhill blue butterflies of the area. Apparently, blue butterflies have been decimated in Eastbourne according to Lord Lucas who has advised on a GCSE in Natural History.
The course creators wants schools to create and manage patches of natural wilderness for an intensive hands-on experience. Each area is more naturally suited to a certain species of animal. For example, teenagers in Derbyshire or the South Downs might like to study colonies of water voles which is an endangered species. Hedgehogs might be studied in urban environments such as back gardens.
Packham, the conservationist, says that one in five mammals are at a high risk of extinction plus insects and farmland birds are declining in numbers. Packham wants students in particular to connect more often and more intensively with nature both for the sake of improved mental health and the health of the environment and wildlife around us.
Many children are getting nowhere near enough contact with nature. A study found that one in five youngsters had not visited a forest park or beach for more than a year. The names of wild flora and fauna are beyond most individuals.
A GCSE in Natural History would include classes outside and will be taught from the age of five as part of a drive for a more green curriculum with the added benefit of imbuing the minds of young citizens of the UK with the need to be sensitive towards the welfare of the planet which means the environment, nature, the wild species that live in forests and grasslands of the world. We need a better connection between youngster and nature so that they can truly appreciate it and develop a desire to protect it generations to come. It is a change in attitude which is required and that starts with a young person connecting with and enjoying nature.
In addition, the world needs leaders who can start prioritising the protection of the wild species and the habitat in which they live. We need strong, determined leaders to achieve this. For far too long conservation has been put on the backburner which is why there is a dramatic erosion in population numbers of iconic species; species that we love, admire and rely on to be there for generations to come. The way humankind is driving itself in terms of commercial enterprise and in population size, it will almost inevitably lead to many species being seen in captivity only by great-great-grandchildren.
SOME MORE ON THE EDUCATION: