Many teachers do not know it, but COP 23 is the best training practice a foreign language teacher can get. Panel discussions, conferences, workshops and materials available at some countries’ pavilions are perfect places to get hold of teaching resources in a very short time. Bearing in mind that German teachers can have up to three days exempt from their classes in order to learn something they can use to prepare their lessons, and so many of us are travelling very far to get a small fraction of what is available at a COP, I really think that teachers should participate more in that.
The pavilion of Organisation Internationale de la Francofonie has invited scholars from France, Africa and Latin America to talk about the agricultural impact on climate change. The Indian Pavilion invited speakers on different energy sources, luckily not excluding an option. The Russian Pavilion has surprisingly proved to be run by Chinese and other non-Russian native speakers. Most talks concerned the possibilities of a transition from coal power plants to gas power plants. In the short run, this is a realistic way of reducing CO2 emissions. One talk is still on the prospects of Russian nuclear industry showed a rational choice in favour of a better energy mix.
Meeting children at one of the side event gave me an opportunity to see how sensitive the next generation is to the problem of climate change. Reading the graphic novel “Let’s Save Our Planet” written by one of our members and co-founders, Julie Wornan, helped me realize that children are very receptive to the problem and have an intuitive yearning to learn what the realistic steps towards saving our planet could be. All they need are really workable solutions that schools and parents could provide them with.
That is why we, teachers, should work on updating our teaching resources. Many colleagues of mine know Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” as a standard reference in many school textbooks. Al Gore paid a visit to the German pavilion and gave two talks introducing his new documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” that was screened in parts and gave teachers a chance to assess it as a possible teaching resource.
Even more crucial than the talks and the panel discussions, Al Gore’s rightful comments on the action of the current US government and the panel discussion with German Environmental State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth, Al Gore mentioned “reconsidering the nuclear”. Seeing Mr Gore evolve from what so-called environmentalist mainstream wants him to be towards a political realist, is a good sign.
Our partners, such as Clean Carbon Technology, with whom we shared a booth, and the Heidelberg University, with whom we organized a side event on climate and public health, have also provided me with topical information and sources to update my class. Rather than discussing whether climate change is a priority or not (as suggested in many obsolete schoolbooks), it is a better option to teach which solutions are available: turning CO2 into construction materials, finding a better energy mix, setting better priority in agriculture and transportation, including the current debate on solution to the problem of climate change in school curricula.
I really recommend all teachers to look out for opportunities of joining one of the next COP events. It is a gold mine of teaching resources.