Tag Archives: action

I Am Not a Moth and My Keys are Not Missing

Over thirty thousand people evacuated and a thousand homes ablaze in Colorado at the end of December? Difficult as it may be to believe, such impacts of climate change are predicted to be increasingly felt, unless we as a species move out of the heaving blackness and entrapment of the Anthropocene. That worldview which is dominated by a false dogma.  The one where drunken humans believe themselves to be at the very core of existence. Pivotal to the necessary upheaval and shift in human consciousness is a transcendence beyond activism and into action. 

The past few days, I coincidentally came across two very similar jokes. The first about a moth who goes into a podiatrist’s office. When asked about his problem, the response is a long-winded account of all of his troubles. Amongst these is tragic loss and cowardice.  The punchline comes when the doctor suggests the moth see a psychiatrist instead and asks why the moth came to a foot specialist. 

“Cause the light was on!” 

How many of us are similarly drawn to whatever glitters, speaks loudest, or successfully garners our attention? A currently trending stirring satirical film on Netflix called, “Don’t Look Up” does a fantastic job depicting this. The plot centers on how a planet-killing comet imminently hurtles toward earth and yet politics, economics, and society’s addiction to the frivolous divide the world.  Stall followed by avarice, are the only response offered.  Parallels might be drawn between the inappreciable ground gained (or lost!) since the 2015 Paris Climate Change talks.  

The second joke, actually stemming from a 13th century parable, also involves light.  A helpful police officer questions a man on all fours hunting for his lost keys under the streetlamp. “Are you sure you dropped your keys here?” 

“No, I am sure I lost them across the street.”

Dismayed, the officer inquires, “Then, why do you search here?”  

“Because the light is much better here.”

Doing Something Different

People’s propensity to search in easier places than those which are likely to honestly yield results being the crux of the joke.  Yet, laughter aside, both jokes contain truth at the core. In vulnerability, I consider my own experience. One which in the past may have been quick to step out on a ledge, even to select “adventurer” as one of three words to define myself. Yet, the moth in me began to be drawn into the known, the comfortable, and the compliant.  Foolery. Or, like the man in search of his keys I seemingly began to illogically camp under the light of a 20 watt bulb instead of under the myriad miracles of the skies.   ​

Obviously, I am not a moth and my keys are not missing.  Yet from time to time I think about how at one training a gong was struck, followed by a call to “do something different!” Anchored by an excitement for uncertainty and a wellspring of curiosity I am ready to do something different. Fussing over school standards or lunch duty responsibilities seemingly dilutes the larger sense of purpose I feel. Especially when I consider how indubitably countries, businesses, and schools are continually shifting. Human consciousness beginning to result in action.

Net-Zero Cannot Wait

Net-zero is a critical concept rightly abuzz. It occurs when the amount of greenhouse gas emitted is no greater than the amount removed from the atmosphere. Measuring carbon emissions is important because it has an effect on global warming.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported how a planetary warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius “would be an unacceptably high risk, potentially resulting in major extinctions, more severe droughts and hurricanes, a watery Arctic, and an increased toll on human health and well-being.”  See: Colorado fires at the start of this article. 

Many countries have committed to reaching “net-zero” by midcentury.  Indonesia and Saudi Arabia by 2060.  And India by 2070.  Not only does each lack a detailed plan for how to achieve this, a band-aid will not help resuscitate like an AED.  Thankfully, there are bolder approaches being taken. The Kingdom of Bhutan was ahead of the times when back in 2009, they achieved net-zero. Further the country promised to remain carbon neutral for time  immemorial but in effect progressed and became carbon negative. Little wonder exists if a correlation can be made between Bhutan’s love of the planet and the country’s choice to measure gross national happiness (GNH) as opposed to GDP.

After Secretary-General António Guterres called a, “code red for humanity,” many multinational corporations committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions.  The likes of Amazon and other companies vow to do more to protect the Earth.  Their goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions is 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement goals. However, “greenwashing” or the process of conveying false impressions about a company becoming more environmentally sound, is legitimate.  This especially so after Jeff Bezos decision to add 300 metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere during a 180 second space odyssey.  A figure equivalent to nearly 3 million miles of automobile travel!  

Schools also are beginning to net-zero call. In October of 2021, Hawaii Preparatory Academy made a bold move in committing to eliminating its carbon emissions over the next nine years. In an official press release they pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2030. Colby College in Waterville, Maine paved the way in 2013 when it became the first  carbon neutral university. Nine other colleges and universities in the United States have similarly achieved this goal.

Ironically or not, it was the natural world and a snowstorm that extinguished Colorado’s wildfires. The influential writer Alice Walker suggested that the most important question in the world is, “Why is the child crying?” For the sake of this post, the Earth is this child. Pretending to not hear, only will offer up more piercing shrill and devastation. Fires, floods, and famine. The answers remain in the actions we take. Not in 2030 or 2070. Resolute must we be.

Now.

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For more on how your school might begin to educate for a more sustainable future, click on Green Schools National Network.

World Economic Forum Video: “Incredibly, these countries absorb more carbon than they emit.”

Possibility. Purpose. Action.

I am not an old man.

10 print “Hello, I am cool.”
20 goto 10
Run

“Hello, I am cool” would cycle down the screen.  Early days of coding with BASIC in my later elementary years on an Apple 2E.

In high school my relationship with the phone was a bit adversarial and yet I dreamed of a day when I would see on a sort of screen, my aunt and uncle as I spoke with them on the phone.  Likely this was not entirely of my own imagination but influenced by the popular animated sitcom, “The Jetsons.”

During six years of university I borrowed a friend’s Brother word processor to type papers before toting around both floppy and hard diskettes, external writable storage devices. These were helpful when I managed to reserve computer time at the only computer lab on campus, a university with 16,000 enrolled students. 

Imagine 16,000 students sharing 15 computers today!

For the first few years of teaching I did not have a personal or laptop computer.  There were no projectors in the classroom, aside from an overhead projector.  Next to it were printed transparencies to share and a stack of blanks for writing notes for the class to copy. 

I am not an old man.

A few years into the 2nd millennium and classrooms began to be retrofitted for the digitization that was underway. Digital projectors began to be mounted on classroom ceilings and in one school I worked, SMART boards debuted. The interactive white boards all the rage before they quickly fizzled out.

The intention is not to look fondly back as if to say, “These were the days.”  All the contrary and instead, this short bit of history points at how far and fast we have come. Moreover, might we imagine what is next?  Anything is always possible, as I was reminded of this past week in class.

Oculus Provides a Glimpse Into the Future

“Ten years from now, everything is going to be virtual,” proclaimed one of my quieter eleven year-old students.  Her shyness overcome by both her passion and resoluteness.  We were preparing to have an introductory experience with virtual reality.  The device, the Oculus, aptly named for it means, “eye” in Latin.  Further, oculi are architecturally structural elements that are round openings at the tops of domes or cupolas. The Pantheon in Rome is one of the best examples. Originating in antiquity, the oculus is the perfect name as we begin to challenge ourselves in learning from the future. 

The actual VR experience proved stimulating for students, the connection being one linked to our current unit on innovation and how access clearly is a social justice issue. More provocative than virtually dancing with a robot, was the captivating conversation that ensued. One which reflected how students need not wait to create their own reality and how entrepreneurial mindsets  can drive transformative experiences in our schools. A definitive juxtaposition from the default where educational models often result in teachers and students senselessly passing back and forth assignments.  Free of audience and purpose. 

An Entrepreneurial Spirit Remains Alive

“So much is already virtual. I am selling my art as NFTs,” voiced probably my second most reserved student. He went on to broadcast the platform where five of his digital art pieces are being auctioned. Students enquired about the cost and the artist further imparted what he understood about non fungible tokens (and though English is his second language, he pronounced this perfectly), cryptocurrencies and Ethereum in particular.  In effect, between the five pieces of his artwork, the value was equivalent to more than $18,000USD.  I remind you, this is an eleven-year old.  So, it’s possible he could enter school, sit all day being talked at by teachers, and exit at 2:30 with thousands of dollars in his virtual pocket, or wallet.  

Why not tap into this?  

None of the art was done at school.  None of the computer platform learning or marketing if you will.  None of the background on cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

Yet, he and so many other students, find a way to learn.  To follow their passions.  In this case, business and art.  But what about the child studying the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6, ensuring a clean and stable water supply and effective water sanitation for all people?  Is she effectively contributing to making a difference so this goal might be realized in the next eight years?  Or, might she simply be researching, taking notes, and making a Google slides presentation?

Possibility.

Purpose.

Action.

Seems these three words might best become a mantra of sorts in our schools.  

10 print “Possibility. Purpose. Action.”
20 goto 10
Run

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Books & the environment

From simple concepts to complicated science; from preschool to high school, (picture)books can serve to discuss and discover information about the environment, including climate change and endangered wildlife. These books can lead to hands-on projects such as adopting a whale or planting trees. The books can also serve as examples to write your own classroom stories about your specific environment or favorite (endangered) animals.

Miss Rumphius

One of the earliest picture books about the environment is perhaps the ever popular classic Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. It is the story of a librarian who wants to travel the world ánd make the world a more beautiful place. She does so by planting wild flowers that form an everlasting legacy. A lovely story that can lead to a classroom discussion of “How will you make the world a more beautiful place?”. Students can start a school garden or plant seeds in pots. ISBN 0-14-050539-3

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback, written by Beryl Young, illustrated by Sakika Kikuchi. A gentle story to share with young readers, it compares where Humpback lives with her calf to a child in his own environment. Both are growing bigger, both need food and a clean environment to thrive. And both are learning new skills as they grow. A perfect picture book to install a love of, and respect for, nature. ISBN 978-1-77164-573-7, Greystone Kids

Sunny Days

Sunny Days by Deborah Kerbel features attractive collage art by Miki Sato. This padded board book celebrates a day outside for very young readers. Written in rhyme, it shows how to plant seeds, bake mud pies and splash in the ocean. Added activities in the back make children aware of the environment and simple science. ISBN 978-1-77278-197-7, Pajama Press

Forest Magic: A Guidebook for Little Woodland Explorers

Forest Magic by Sarah Grindler is a guide to all things forest. The text gently points out the miracle of seeds growing into tall trees, offering shelter to birds and insects. The beautiful art shows the difference between moss and lichen, explains how a nurse log propagates life and what you can do to support and encourage biodiversity. A lovely guide for young explorers in the forest. ISBN 978-1-77108-926-5, Nimbus Publishing

Outside, You Notice

Outside, You Notice by Erin Alladin, illustrated by Andrea Blinick. From the smell of rain to the feel of seeds – “the most important things in the world” – this picture book is a beautiful first introduction to the outdoors and helps to create awareness of the interconnectedness of nature. The book has a main text complemented by text boxes with more details as well as suggestions on ways to spend time outside: to parks, markets and more. ISBN 978-1-77278-193-9, Pajama Press

City of Water

City of Water, Andrea Curtis, illustrated by Katy Dockrill is for upper elementary and middle grade students. Where does the water in your tap come from? This book looks at all things water – from the history of aqueducts to how water treatment plants work. It highlights innovative ideas like turning salt water into drinkable water. I was interested to learn that “a bottle of water costs up to two thousand times more than the same amount of water coming from the tap, requires two thousand times more energy to produce and uses more water in the production process than an average bottle can hold!” Fascinating facts for budding environmentalist, and for anyone who drinks water. ISBN 978-1-77306-144-3, Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs is the author of environmental books like When We Go Camping, Amazing Animals, In My Backyard and The Elephant Keeper.