Reader Survey: You agree there’s more to teach about sustainability

(Last Updated On: March 22, 2023)

In the last issue, INTERFACE teamed up with the Marine Stewardship Council to find out your thoughts on teaching about environmental sustainability Thanks to everyone who participated in the reader survey. This is what you told us.

It seems that something we can all agree on is that environment sustainability is relevant to teachers, whatever subject they teach (73.7% strongly agree; 20.2% slightly agree).

Also, teaching about sustainability is important to you (59.7% strongly agree; 35.1% slightly agree) and it should be a given part of modern education to learn about sustainable lifestyles (60.5% strongly agree; 33.3% slightly agree).

Students’ interests

While you believe the curriculum guides what topics to teach that are related to sustainability (41.6% highly influence; 46.1% moderately influence), your students’ interests also play a significant part in the decision. More than half of you (50.4%) say they highly influence and two-fifths (41.59%) moderately influence what you teach where sustainability is concerned.

We asked you to choose what you thought were the most important issues in sustainability that should be taught in your school? The top five choices were:

  • Waste reduction 68.4%
  • Health and well-being 57.9%
  • Oceans and ocean life 56.1%
  • Climate change 55.3%
  • Responsible consumption and production of food 51.8%
  • Influence of campaigners

Interestingly, only around a third of you (35.1%) believed that the actions of campaigners like Greta Thunberg had a positive influence on students’ motivation to take action on sustainable issues. Roughly the same again (33.3%) thought they had no influence and 4.4% believed campaigners had a negative influence on kids’ motivation to take action on sustainable issues.

Ocean conservation

Many of you think you have a good understanding of the issues involved in ocean sustainability (strongly agree 17.8%; slightly agree 62.4%). However, you don’t think students fully understand how human activity is impacting ocean health (strongly agree 47.5%; slightly agree 35.4%)

While you believe it’s a subject that’s relevant to students (strongly agree 52.5%; slightly agree 34.7%), you also don’t think it gets the attention it deserves in lessons (strongly agree 26.7%; slightly agree 55.5%) and believe you don’t have the resources to discuss and teach it (strongly agree 12.9%; slightly agree 44.6%).

Four-fifths of you would like to improve your knowledge around ocean conservation and sustainability, with the things likely to be most helpful being:

  • High quality teaching resources/downloads;
  • Teacher training; and
  • Programmes, events or themed days that get students involved.

If you were considering a visit to an aquarium or other ocean-related exhibit with your class, the most important factors influencing your decision would be a workshop on ocean conservation run by aquarium staff (74.3%) and a clear curriculum-linked activity (35.6%).

Finally, two-thirds (64.4%) of you would like to use your power as an educator to prepare the next generation, as individuals, to make decisions for sustainable lives. And 92.7% want to help and support students to feel able to take positive action on ocean conservation and sustainability.

Check out Te Kawa O Tangaroa

If you’d like to learn more, Te Kawa O Tangaroa is an ocean-centred learning programme from the Marine Stewardship Council. With a focus on solutions to overfishing and ensuring oceans teem with life, it’s designed for learners in Years 7 to 10, and aligned to the National Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Also, you can sign up for teacher updates and, each quarter, receive the latest education resources, upcoming calendar dates, competitions, and ocean-related stories.

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INTERFACE February 2023

Categories: Article