My School Challenges when Implementing an Environmental Policy

By Ranjana Panigar
Mar 18th, 2019

I am made to sow the thistle for wheat, the nettle for a nourishing dainty:
I have planted a false oath in the earth; it has brought forth a Poison Tree:
I have chosen the serpent for a counselor, and the dog
For a schoolmaster to my children:
I have blotted out from light and living the dove and nightingale,
And I have caused the earthworm to beg from door to door:
I have taught the thief a secret path into the house of the just:
I have taught pale Artifice to spread his nets upon the morning.
My heavens are brass, my earth is iron, my moon a clod of clay,
My sun a pestilence burning at noon, and a vapour of death in night.

Like William  Blake, we live in unprecedented times, and I don’t think we know how to honestly confront our environmental situation. Facing an environmental situation that has no precedent, Blake’s radical imagination is a fascinating example of how a literary artist can forge new modes of expression in order to confront the contours of the shifting reality in which we live.

The educational clubs at St. Xavier´s Nevta (India) help in the holistic development of a child and provide a continuum of experiences from online to hands-on, inquiry –and activity based learning. Under the aegis of Rev. Father John Ravi, the students have exciting opportunities for enhancing learning, sharpening observation and problem-solving skills, and producing measurable outcomes. Being the co-ordinator of LTS Club (Leadership Training for Service), We have been striving to inculcate and develop amongst students a shift/transition  from “I consciousness to WE consciousness”. Under this maxim, I ,with my colleague Mam Ite along with Sister Binita, asked the students of the age group 10 to 16 years to watch an  advertisement about conservation of water.  It was about an arid Indian village Mangalaram ri Dhani in Rajasthan which woke up to a swanky shower cubicle in its midst one morning. To their surprise the water from the shower quenched the thirst of the entire village and yet the city dweller continued his shower.

When questioned about the best part of the advertisement , their comments were revealing. “I will not waste water !” , “I will value and save water” etc. All of them seem to exude a new confidence in themselves and reflect a new appreciation of our environment.

St. Xaviers ,Nevta is budding as an environmentally active school, a LEARNSCAPE.  Caring for Nature is a Green Investment which will heap Green returns. The initiatives taken in this direction are banning plastic, Litter Prevention Drive, and Save Water Campaign. The former was started by Rev. Father and the latter two by the young environmentalists of the school. Students (Piyush Arya, Aryan Bhalot, and Kovid Rawat) have begun these campaigns at individual and at community level. Drums are kept to collect the unused potable water from the water bottles of the students, to reuse them to water plants in the campus.

Moreover students demonstrated through their activities “Walk the walk”, the ways to confront our Environmental Apocalypse.

The soft boards, decorated with slogans develop environmental consciousness amongst the younger generation. Students celebrate Earth Day on 22 April and volunteer at an Earth Day event for quality enhancement of sustainable development. (Awareness, Knowledge , Attitudes, Skills, Participation). Campus “greening” activities are taken up. The co-ordinators and students are proposing to organize the WOW awards (Wipe Out Waste) awards to involve active participation of students by turning the Trash into Treasure. (stop throwing away perfectly good pencils or unused potable water from water bottles).

In coming months, the LTS Club along with the Tarumitra Club (environment club) will initiate a new drive called “AAHVAAN …The Journey Begins…. Based upon the 4R PRINCIPLES RecycleRefuseReuseReduce.”

Inspite of all optimal efforts taken care of, it seems environmental issues are more often expressed in “sound bites” than explained by sound reasoning. As educators, we had more interaction with nature directly, than through “virtual realities” of the present generation.

The challenge is not to supplant newer information sources but to complement them with a menu of linked opportunities that promote a continuum of experience, as well as learning that incorporates outdoor education and hands-on activities. Students often get knowledge about nature from television documentaries than from actual experience of the natural world. Let students devote a certain amount of  timeto community service as a learning experience for purely altruistic reasons, and guided by learning-by-doing philosophy. Let Environment be a part of our learning curriculum.

Many children and adults spend little time, if any, outdoors in nature. It is difficult to teach the values of conservation and preservation to persons who do not appreciate the natural world around them or who are afraid or loathe to venture into it. Traditional classroom techniques or interpretive signage do little to change such attitudes. One of the major challenges we face as educators, is how to develop environmental awareness, concern, and ultimately, passion that leads to action. There is an hiatus between teacher and student’s perceptions. How do we convince students that they can make a difference, that action rather than apathy is what is needed?

I do firmly believe that there is hope and generations of Green Ambassadors of Environment will be created .We can create a sense of responsibility, possibly even a passionate commitment. If they come to understand the intricacy of our environment and how human well-being is tied to environmental health, they may come to recognize the benefits of conservation and preservation and become advocates and activists. We must all be both local and global citizens because our future and the future of our Mother Earth depend on our protecting the environment.