When I was a kid in the late 80s I remember colouring in a scared koala in a tree with the words “We want forests not wood chips”, that we then sent into parliamentarians. We now live in a world where koalas are more endangered than ever, with land clearing wiping out vast amounts of koala habitat (things are actually worse now than they were then). This is typical of a range of environmental issues globally.
Child and student activism is not a new thing, but we live in a world where students are connected in unprecedented ways. They are connected because of those mobile phones that we all complain about. Yes they’re posting rubbish about their makeup and favourite pop stars, but they also use them to connect about more serious issues too like the environment, mental health, dealing with bullying, etc. Those phones and social media is actually used for positive things, not just negative.
Let’s be clear: this is not about teachers or schools. This is not organised by schools, and because most of the education sector are directly employed by the State government we are not allowed to publicly support it or to support it in the school setting. Many parents, however provide permission to students to leave school. This has been organised by children. The same children that we hear the media complain about being lazy, self-centred, illiterate, etc. This is what they can do without adults. They have access to more information and more research in a few simple clicks, then we would have had access to in a lifetime a couple of generations ago. These guys will be working and voting in the not too distant future. We had better sit up and take notice.
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Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the Geoactive text book series.