Climate Change Despair and Empowerment Activity
This activity encourages students to share their thoughts and anxieties surrounding climate change in a community circle. The goal is to help students discover their common fears in hopes of fostering a readiness for shared action.
Time Required: 60-90 minutes
Stage 1: Feeling Powerful
Students are asked to think about times when they have had to do something really difficult or scary but where they came out feeling really powerful. After a few minutes’ reflection they pick up a card and write down images that capture the experience and feelings of those times. Students share their images round the circle. They store their card for future reference.
Stage 2: Thinking the Unthinkable
The teacher asks students to each pick up a card and write three sentences beginning:
- ‘The thing that worries me most about the heating of the climate is...’
- ‘The thing I prefer not to think about happening with climate change is...’
- ‘What scares me most about a hot planet is...’
Three to four minutes are given for writing (the teacher avoids giving examples and urges students to write what they wish). The cards are collected in, shuffled and given out again. Each student reads out the card they have received. All sentences are accepted without comment.
Stage 3: Climate Change Nightmares
With eyes closed, students are asked to silently run a film in their heads about dangerous climate change inspired by their recall of a bad dream or of something they have read in a newspaper, magazine or book or seen on film. Without opening their eyes, they draw a picture on paper, not to be shown to anyone, of their feelings.
Stage 4: Something You Love
Again with eyes closed, students are asked to think deeply about something they most value about life or the world. Volunteers are asked to share and describe things they thought of.
Stage 5: A Hopeful Future
On a new card, students write three sentences beginning:
- ‘We really could face up to global warming by...’
- ‘Life could be good, even better, if...’
- ‘To transform things, a good way forward would be to...’
Stage 6: Brainstorming
Students are asked to brainstorm things that people and whole societies might do to stave off dangerous climate change. All ideas are accepted and written on the flip chart by the teacher.
Stage 7: Revisiting Feeling Powerful
Students are asked to go back to the images of themselves being powerful and look again at their cards (Stage 1). They are asked to quietly reflect on how those feelings of power might be drawn upon to help reduce climate change and, in particular, be used in realizing any of the ideas brainstormed. Everyone in the circle is encouraged to share their reflections, those who wish being encouraged to write ‘commitment to action’ cards to be shared or not shared with the class as the writer sees fit.
Resource Type:Lesson Plan
Subject(s):Environmental Studies, Aboriginal Studies, Law, Earth Science, Environmental Science,
Topic:Air, Atmosphere and Climate, Social Justice, Taking Action,
Level:Intermediate / MiddleSecondary
Grade: 7 8 9 10 11 12
Web Pages Used
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