I'm keeping an eye on what Teach the Future has been doing recently – making good use of the covid-19 crisis to re-organise itself by the look of it. It's now got a core (or should that be cadre?) of campaign organisers, and you can see who they are here. They should not be underestimated. The two who represented it on OCR's advisory group on its proposed Natural History GCSE were eloquent and effective.
I was struck by this recent post: Young people understand the reality of climate and ecological breakdown, often better than adults. It got me wondering how true this is.
The word "often" is useful, of course, as a limiter. But "... better than most adults" would have helped as well, as would have "Many young people ..." Indeed, putting in many and most would have eliminated the need for often.
But it was the word "reality" that got me wondering: "the reality of climate change". This has so many potential meanings: reality on the ground for people and for other species and for habitats; reality in the atmosphere for weather and climate systems; reality for scientists and others who gather and analyse data; reality for governments who must grapple with the future possibilities; etc.
And there I wondered about "understand". I don't think that the writer meant understand in a purely (and limited) cognitive sense as in understand what a greenhouse gas is, that CO2, NO and CH4 are greenhouse gases, or what carbon capture and storage is; it's more in the sense of appreciating the difficulties that climate change will likely cause. This is a mix of the cognitive and the affective: knowledge, concern and taking action.
I think that a key point that Teach the Future makes is that in any educational setting, understanding needs to be seen as such.