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Engaging students in land base learning and ecological justice

April 20, 2023 — 

Scott Durling is a part-time graduate student working on his Master of Education Thesis that explores critical place-based pedagogies for decolonizing citizenship education. He is currently a Grade 6-8 teacher in Winnipeg.

His current work with H.C. Avery Middle School and The Green Minds project goal is to support students with climate crisis and mental and emotional wellbeing. “Like many other trauma inducing events, the climate crisis is a difficult experience to discuss. Our work is to support students and provide tools with unpacking difficult experiences and feelings so that they can manage eco-anxiety, and engage in personal growth and collective action for ecological justice,” Durling explains.

Scott Durling, grad student

Durling’s work with The Green Minds project developed through Manitoba Teacher Idea Fund (TIF), “engaging students in land-based learning and ecological justice is the most important need we have in education for action with the climate crisis, reconciliation, and resurgence,” says Durling.

A key part of this project is to support mental health among students “when we feel good, we can do good for our community. The goal of the project is to support student mental health and to learn more about the climate crisis through a solutions-frame,” explains Durling. He explains how difficult and overwhelming it can be for teachers to integrate climate change and climate action into the curriculum. “The goal of our project is to inspire and develop creative learning experiences that make connections between ecological justice and land-based learning within Manitoban curriculum. We are currently implementing our own Green Minds curriculum to support classroom projects and learning experiences connected to climate change,” explains Durling.

He is working with four classrooms on a national “Future City” Project and Challenge, organized by the non-profit Canadian organization Engineers of Tomorrow. “Students are learning about ecological justice issues in urban settings, and what a sustainable, ecologically just city might look like in 100 years from now. Classroom teachers have chosen themes to focus on with their students from their own personal interests, including waste, water, social justice, or the TRC’s 94 calls to action. Students are designing and building physical city models that will demonstrate their learning of what a city might look like through the 94 calls to action or a municipal policy of zero-waste,” explains Durling.

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