EcoUniv Environmental Education Framework – Understanding the learner – Fourteen year old / Ninth grade
(c) Yogesh Pathak
The 9th grader (which is also the beginning of “high school” in some countries) is now well onto the teenage way of life. They start developing an identity independent of their families. Belonging to their peer group is an important need at this age. In schoolwork and sports, this is a time when they become increasingly aware of their strong points as well as limitations.
They are also becoming more aware of the society around them and start thinking about issues on the wider canvas like politics, religion, the rural-urban divide, racial or caste differences, or economic inequality. They may often get into arguments with friends, teachers, and parents, while discussing a variety of such topics. They also like to compete in groups, celebrate their wins and dissect their failures.
On the language front, curricula at this stage have more complex content especially in grammar and vocabulary. Many students may also be learning more than two languages at this age. This includes reading, writing, and speaking in front a group. Making conversation, letter-writing, and translation get added to the expanding language repertoire of the teenager.
In history, social and political science, they may be asked to appreciate the complex social fabric in their country and how the ideas of modernity and development have impacted their society. The various facets of development, be it science and technology, education, social changes, infrastructure, industrialization, the information revolution, and governance are presented in simpler terms to students at this age.
In geography, finer aspects of climate, geology, and oceans will be studied, drawing upon the foundation of concepts they have already learned in earlier grades. Linkages of geography to trade, globalization, economics, travel and tourism, and communication are often included in the curriculum in simple terms. Additional skills in map-reading and drawing can also be developed.
In physical sciences, a wider set of concepts is expected to be learned by the students at this level. These include further concepts in classical mechanics, electricity, light, sound, heat, chemistry (e.g. chemical equations and chemical properties of substances), IT, astronomy, and biotechnology.
In natural sciences, additional ecosystem concepts can be presented to them (e.g. flows of energy and matter). Other concepts include microbiology, evolution, adaptation, classification and taxonomy, and life cycle/processes of key classes of life.
Implications for nature education:
Drawing upon the concepts that are being presented in other classes, the holistic environmental perspective can further expand a student’s horizons in the 9th grade. For example:
The variety of topics being taught in history and social sciences could all be linked to a review of man-nature relationship history in the context of the country. Then the extent of how man-nature relationship is being impacted by modern development, industrialization, infrastructure, could be discussed. Finally land use change could also be evaluated through the above lenses. The ‘clock’s of modern development and nature could be compared and the rate of natural destruction could be evaluated in this context.
The 9th grader that is being exposed to classical economics should also be presented with faulty assumptions and logic in current economic theory. (e.g. “Man’s needs and wants are limitless and diverse”). A detached discussion on where and for whom modern economics has added value is also warranted.
This is a good year to study livelihoods. Various livelihoods and economic returns from them should be studied and compared. Nature-centric vocations, simple-technology-based vocations, and their livelihood aspects should be presented. This should be compared with livelihoods from modern knowledge societies e.g. vocations drawing upon complex technology and access to capital.
The multi-faceted impact of industrialization and information technology on our society, human relations, consumption, waste creation, pollution, inequality should be studied and debated.
This is also a good year to study urbanization, it’s reasons and impact, and the urban-rural divide.
At this age, students can themselves participate in basic economic activities, make simple goods or services, and sell them. The above concepts will help design right opportunities for such practical experience so that it leads to enriched learning of the nature-society-economics linkage.