This Earth Day we spoke with a Teachable school working to help address climate change through education. The Climate Action Academy, part of the organization 2811, is on a mission to support youth, their educators, and institutions within the education sphere to help address climate change.
The Climate Action Academy itself was started after the historic marches and climate activism that was spurned worldwide in 2018. It started as in-person training for teachers in Chile. “We trained 90 teachers from this town in Chile, about climate change and how to bring it into the classroom,” Katie Cashman, a climate action leader within 2811, told Teachable.
Moving education online
But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, in-person trainings weren’t a safe option any longer. “When COVID hit in March of 2020, we decided to put all the content online and just try to make it an online version that even more teachers could access,” Katie said. After that, they started doing outreach to schools and educational groups to gauge interest in climate change education and climate action online.
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Because they saw enough interest, they decided to bring the course online and have since trained more than 700 educators with the online courses offered in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Next, they’re launching the course in German. They’re a global team of people working to help educators all over the world learn the skills the youth they’re teaching will need to learn about to face a climate changed future.
Instead of focusing on actions individuals can take, such as recycling or going vegetarian, they focus on skill-building. “It’s more like, what skills do youth need in order to deal with the crisis in the future? And in order to develop solutions to it, what kind of abilities do they need to be learning in school?” Katie said.
Bringing a global perspective to climate change education
The cohort-based course runs over four weeks, sometimes with as many as 100 educators taking it at one time. All those educators from around the world share their life stories and what got them interested in climate change education in the first place. This helps the teachers connect to one another. Because they come from all over the world, they wouldn’t necessarily meet without this course. This helps illustrate the climate crisis on a local and a global scale. Because it allows the educators enrolled in the course to share how it’s impacting them, and learn how it’s affecting others.
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The modules of the course curriculum each take about three hours to complete Katie told Teachable. And those modules cover understanding climate change, trends in climate education, tools and activities for climate education, and envisioning and integrating climate action.
The message and mission
While the course is generally geared toward educators, the term can encompass multiple types of educators beyond the classroom. “There are a lot of informal educators and people who work at organizations or school staff that aren’t teachers. And there are also people who are unemployed, who are looking for work in teaching or in climate action that have ended up joining,” Katie said. The courses have reading materials, live zoom sessions, course material, and more to help everyone taking the course.
The courses also branch out into community action too. One teacher from New Mexico who completed the online course worked with 2811 to help kick off some community action. The organization was able to go to New Mexico and work with the educator to set up a municipal composting system, Katie told Teachable. Thanks to a grant, they’ll be doing the same thing again this year.
Teaching that spans generations
The impact that Climate Action Academy has is inherently a ripple effect. For every educator they teach, dozens of students and youth learn more about climate change and the action they can take. “Our mission is to inspire changes through education with education as a tool for climate action,” Katie said. A mission they’re accomplishing with each cohort of students.
We’ve got a worksheet to help you decide which one is best for your course.