Emotions, Climate Change, and the Classroom: A Resource for Primary School Teachers

Case Summary: 

The climate change education course was developed by the Office for Climate Education (OCE), an organization with a global network with its headquarters in Paris.

Starting in September 2022, lessons focused on nature, the science of climate change, and how the climate functions. In December, the focus shifted to emotions and motivations around climate action. Students discussed their emotional reactions to climate change and engaged in group work to brainstorm solutions to climate issues. Starting in January, the program took a project-based approach. Students developed and implemented a climate change mitigation or adaptation project focused on issues specific to the school.

In focus group discussions, which were all conducted with 12-year old girls, OCE’s case study researchers found comprehension of climate change was an issue for the students. The topics taught in lessons, such as the greenhouse effect, were complex, and so students had difficulty recalling and explaining the scientific concepts in their own words.

Students also found it difficult to grasp the systemic aspects of climate change. Rather, they tended to focus on providing examples to prove the existence of climate change which were not always accurate. For example, students repeatedly linked climate change and pollution, and they inaccurately suggested that plastic pollution is the main cause of climate change.

This case study points to the importance of addressing climate change in age-appropriate ways.

Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Governance and Stakeholder Engagement
Sectors and Themes 
Barriers overcome 
MECCE (Monitoring and Evaluation Climate Communication and Education Project), UNESCO, Office for Climate Education (OCE)
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