TeacherCents is back with more good news about great things happening in K-12 education. Across the USA, there is a growing movement to get children and adults to spend more time outdoors, connecting with the natural world and being active. As mentioned in our previous blog, physicians are even prescribing “nature” as a therapy. In part, this green awakening can be attributed to Richard Louv and his influential best seller, Last Child in the Woods. Louv’s message of leave no child inside has resonated with parent’s and K-12 educators.
The old adage “there is strength in numbers” is appropriate when explaining the growing popularity of green education initiatives. Health care practitioners increasingly recognize the benefits of spending time in nature. This 2010 New York Times article by Jane E. Brody, Head Out For a Daily Dose of Green Space, speaks to this growing trend. You may also find interest in reading this article from the Vestibular Disorders Association as well as this recent National Public Radio piece by Sam Sanders and Steven Jackson titled, To Make Children Healthy A Doctor Prescribes A Trip To The Park. It is fair to say that an increasing number of health care practitioners can be viewed as allies to the green education movement. The same can be said for proponents of STEM education and President Obama’s Educate to Innovate Initiative as there is a clear connection to the natural sciences and the new economy. This archived speech, from the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the Green School National Network address these connections. To learn more about Green STEM initiatives in education click here.
When policymakers see that there is an economic incentive to a program they often support it. Evidence of this can be seen in the bipartisan support for the Leave No Child Inside Act of 2008 and 2013. The No Child Left Inside Coalition represents thousands of businesses, institutions and millions of Americans who believe in the efficacy of the act and continue to persuade politicians and voters to support it.
Further proof that policymakers are catching the green bug is the 2011 creation and implementation of the Green Ribbon School Program Initiative created by President Obama and the U.S. Department of Education. The following is from the U.S. Department of Education website:
The aim of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is to inspire schools, districts and Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) to strive for 21st century excellence, by highlighting exemplary practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and IHEs that:
- Reduce environmental impact and costs;
- Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
- Provide environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways
July 22, 2014 is the third annual Green Ribbon School Award Ceremony!
There are numerous organizations and initiatives actively working towards a greener future! (too many to talk about in this blog) The work of the National Wildlife Federation and their Eco Schools USA program is especially noteworthy. This program is similar to the Green Ribbon School program, but actually came first as it was created in 2008 as part of an International initiative called Eco Schools. Eco Schools been working towards a sustainable future since the 1990’s. Eco Schools USA recognizes the shared goals of the Green Ribbon School Initiative and has created a system that integrates their value and awards system with those of the Green Ribbon School as a means of achieving mutual success. To learn how your school can become part of the Eco School and Green Ribbon movement click here.
Thank you for reading and sharing! Please comment on the blog and offer any positive news you might have about green education initiatives and programs. Also please follow us on Facebook and Twitter as we are looking to engage with teachers and continue to build our online community.