|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
Most environmental issues are complicated and involve trade-offs. One way for students to understand the many sides of an issue and develop research, communication, and critical thinking skills is to take part in formal and informal debates. By picking a topic that is relevant to your students, you can encourage them to identify the pros and cons of different options and to discuss the trade-offs involved with environmental decisions. You can also give them practice in reading, writing, and public speaking.
The sample debate included here focuses on issues involved with solid waste. In the activity, there are strategies for setting up a debate, tips for debating, and research topics that you might want to adapt for your students. It's important to choose a controversial topic that doesn't have a clear right or wrong answer and is of interest to your students. Although the debate included here focuses on issues in the United States, you can use the same techniques to have your students identify and debate local and regional issues.
If you are interested in conducting a school or community forum, you might want to write to the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) to find out more about their Environmental Issues Forum (see the Bibliography for the address). The program is designed to bring citizens together in locally initiated, non partisan discussions about current environmental issues that concern them. NAAEE has recently published two guides: one on solid waste and the other on wetlands. You can use these guides as a model to help lead discussions about complicated environmental issues in your community.
You might also want to read about problem-posing, a technique for identifying and discussing local issues. (See Managing a Multi-level Classroom, Peace Corps' Information and Collection Exchange.) And see page 341 for another example of a debate called "Rare Bird Eggs for Sale."
ACTIVITIES IN THIS SECTION
1. TOUGH CHOICES, reprinted with permission from Ranger
Rick's NatureScope: Pollution-Problems and Solutions published by the
National Wildlife Federation ( 1990) .