For Earth Day this year I will celebrate by … doing almost exactly the same thing I do every day. Except for the lunch with colleagues to say goodbye, since Friday is my last day before a new job in a new town, and now I will draw a drastic halt to that line of thinking. Guess why I haven’t been posting much?
Big breath in, big breath out: onward.
I will celebrate by doing almost exactly the same thing I do every day.
I will walk my daughter to school, take the subway to work, do my bit in the office to make some parts of Ontario a little cleaner, eat lunch, take the subway to my daughter’s school, walk us both home, make us dinner, talk to my girl, play, get her to bed, run on the elliptical, tidy up a bit, and get to bed much too late to be of use to anyone on Friday. I’ve set my life up to be just about as environmentally benign as it can be within our current system so there’s not much that I can do on special days to make it moreso. On the other hand, I can ignore Earth Day with a clear conscience.
Frances, on the other hand, will be celebrating Earth Day within the context of the Toronto District School Board, and I imagine there will be an Assembly and special projects in the classroom and lots of earnest talk about the end of the world. This I am not so fond of.
I took these pictures a few months back, grade 2 projects hanging in Frances’s school hallway. Grade 2.* Isn’t this a bit much? For seven-year-olds? GLOBAL WARMING IS SCARY WE MUST NEVER TAKE THE ELEVATOR AGAIN!
I’m not saying there isn’t value in that message, but maybe seven isn’t the time to deliver it.
Seven is old enough to understand that there is a serious disconnect between what we say and what we do on global warming and climate change (THE WORLD IS ENDING! THE ICE CAPS ARE MELTING AND SEA LEVELS ARE RISING AND ANIMALS ARE GOING EXTINCT AND PEOPLE ARE DYING! IF YOU LOVE YOUR PLANET, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, RECYCLE YOUR POP CANS!) and to be terrified both by the problem and the ridiculousness and inadequacy of the solutions given in these public school pep talks. But they’re not old enough to question that disconnect or the inadequacy or to doubt their teachers or parents. Cognitive dissonance is a mild term for what must result. Ecophobia is likely a more accurate description for the wholesale terror of nature we inadvertently teach our children in our efforts to turn them into good little crusaders.
I don’t like it. I’d much prefer if public schools (are you listening to me, TDSB?) simply shared the beauty and strangeness and wonder of non-human nature with kids that age, woke up their curiosity and passion, and let Earth Day be a holiday where we celebrate how gorgeous and astounding life is. Leaving the apocalyptic lessons on disaster management via proper lightbulb selection for a more mature developmental stage. We don’t teach seven-year-olds about the holocaust or Darfur. If climate change is the end of freaking life on earth, why are we pounding it into their minds at this age?
The schools are not going to change their curriculum for me, or for Richard Louv or David Sobel apparently, so rather than beat my head on that particular brick wall, I will take Frances to a big lovely wilderness park sometime very soon and show her the trilliums and the bloodroot. We’ll listen for birds, look for turtles and tadpoles.
Because climate change may be the scariest crisis we’ve ever faced as a species, and the world might be ending after all, but there is still enough beauty left to lose ourselves in. And if we can’t–then what exactly are we fighting so hard to save?
*Though to be completely fair I am only deducing that they are by grade 2 students because they are hanging by the walls near the grade 2 classrooms. It could be a fluke. But I doubt it.
This post is part of Backyard Mama’s kids & nature carnival. This week’s topic: Kids & Earth Day. As always there are lots of good posts included, so head on over and check it out. Maybe you’ll see something to inspire you and your family on the 20th anniversary of Earth Day.