As said in the previous article, the early-teen years are about puberty/physical maturity, body image, peer acceptance, developing and defending one’s unique opinions, and an evolving personality.
Now well into high school, 15-year olds are also more organized about their study habits. Some of them may also start thinking about future plans – what they might do after high school. They can debate options in their mind and be able to justify their choices. They need time to form these opinions.
The independence and curiosity to participate in economic activities can also be leveraged to provide real work experience to teens.
In physical sciences, they are now studying more advanced topics in chemistry, unique concepts in electricity, heat, light, and sound. They may get introduced to applied branches like metallurgy or organic chemistry.
In natural sciences, advanced topics in classification of plants and animals, microbiology, and life processes may be introduced. They may also learn more about cell biology, biochemistry, and biotechnology.
In the traditional curricula, students get introduced to evolution and Darwin’s theory at around this age. But in EcoUniv’s environmental education framework, learning about evolution is a key pillar and introduced much earlier.
The study of geography starts becoming more integrative at this level, drawing upon concepts already learned in earlier years. It include finer details of geological forms and erosion, climate, ecological landscapes and biomes, human settlements, trade, and economic geography.
History too becomes a more integrative study of the national culture and it’s various strands: art, religion, knowledge dissemination and education, communication, sports, tourism, entertainment, governance, and military aspects. The concepts of archaeology and heritage are studied, along with various forms of heritage.
Together, these integrative studies, along with advanced study in languages, math, and economics, aid the student’s self-discovery process. They kindle ideas in students’ minds about the fields of interest they could pursue in senior years of high school (junior college) and later in college.
Implications for nature education:
Our observation of curricula at this stage is they mostly fail to highlight the importance of nature and man-nature relationship at this stage.
This is a crucial year, perhaps the most crucial year, to draw upon the foundation of environmental learning in previous grades, connect them to new integrative learning, and show human development in the context of nature’s finite, precious ecological resources.
Particularly, we suggest revisiting the holistic perspective and facilitate interactive learning and debates in the classroom about topics such as:
- Our history of energy use
- Our history of soil, food, and water appropriation from nature
- Where do we go from the current form of industrialization?
- Geology, climate, oceans, ecosystems, and biodiversity as a heritage
- The impact of modern development on this heritage
- Do we have an environmental crisis?
- Are economic inequity and environmental issues related problems?
- What are the solutions to the environmental crisis?
- What is the range of livelihoods in today’s economy and what needs to change? What about unemployment?
- What are the fields of study related to such solutions?
- What is the history of environmental problem-solving in the last 50 years? Global-national-local examples.
- What are environmental movements and how have they contributed to society? Global-national-local examples.
- What is environmental ethics, environmental justice, and environmental law?
[In simplified form]:
- What are the institutional, market-centric, bio-environmentalist, and socialist approaches to environmental problem-solving? How do we see them manifesting around us?
- What are some new, creative, entrepreneurial ideas that are on the horizon?
- Should we have new benchmarks for well-being, development, and progress?