Environmental education gains weight in a return to school marked by Covid

Environmental education gains weight in a return to school marked by Covid

During confinement, many children found refuge in technology, which has favored nature deficit disorder. Environmental education and carrying out activities in green areas reduces the level of stress and increases their involvement to protect the environment

Environmental education gains weight in a return to school marked by Covid

One of the lessons learned from the Covid pandemic has been the importance of protecting the environment to take care of our health. A perspective that, immersed in a different return to school marked by uncertainty and a new wave of infections, is more important than ever.

Social distancing, control of interactions between students and the use of a mask are not incompatible with the performance of outdoor activities and contact with nature . In addition, these experiences are safer compared to prevention strategies contagions of coronavirus “, explains José Antonio Corraliza, professor of Environmental Psychology at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

“The health crisis and confinement have increased the anguish in children, so promoting positive experiences of contact with nature is very important at this time,” adds the expert. During the quarantine, young people and adults have found comfort in the screens of electronic devices. Video calls or the use of streaming services have been common in Spanish homes, where the screens were kept on for most of the day due to the impossibility of going outside.

A circumstance in which children have also been soaked, who have also found refuge in technology . A double-edged sword that has led to nature deficit disorder , a term coined by popularizer Richard Louv who, after analyzing various investigations on the influence of daily contact with nature, demonstrates the positive influence of this exposure especially in children and women. negative consequences for the lack of it.

Specifically, the author points out sequelae such as difficulty in care, cardiovascular and pneumonic diseases, obesity and depression. Effects with which Corraliza agrees, who prefers to call this phenomenon disconnection with nature. Specifically, it indicates the study of correlation between perceived stress in children and the level of close nature. Having a garden, a street with trees or living less than ten minutes walk from a green area reduces the level of stress in children.

Regain outdoor activities

A therapeutic effect of nature that environmental psychologists have cataloged as the restoration hypothesis, that is, the role that nature has in promoting the capacity for psychological restoration after a stressful event. ” It is not a fad, it is related to the activity of our nervous system and we have inherited it as a species . Humans have lived in urban environments for a very short time,” the researcher highlights.

Environmental education gains weight in a return to school marked by Covid

In addition, the professor points out that when it comes to instilling environmental conservation, it is more effective in children to promote love of nature than to instill fear of loss. The positive impacts provoke a greater involvement in the defense and conservation of nature and the results of this effect are plausible in studies such as the one carried out by More Than Research for Naturaliza, the Ecoembes environmental education project, which indicates that nine of each ten young people in Spain consider environmental education a key factor in the post-Covid era.

The study Young people, education and the environment , carried out on more than 3,400 young people between 18 and 30 years old, also highlights that 90% of young people believe that environmental problems need to be considered to a greater extent to understand and prevent health crises.

“Environmental education is like a snail, slow, but it leaves the trail. Each student becomes an environmental agent, showing more commitment than most adults. Not only do they insist on recycling, they also correct when other people misuse the mask and they monitor the correct hygiene of the hands “, explains Joaquín Marzà, a teacher who is part of the Naturaliza project, director of CEIP Manuel Riquelme, in Hurchilllo (Orihuela, Alicante), a center that has been offering environmental education for more than 30 years .

“The pandemic is a complicated and complex situation that requires a series of restrictive measures, but we cannot stop the world. The school has to continue to function. In addition, the conditions for activities abroad are better than in a closed place like it is inside the classroom “, highlights Marzà. In this center of Alicante they continue to carry out activities such as taking care of the school garden and visiting the surrounding forests.

Last May, the Council of Ministers approved the first Draft Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition which, in addition to focusing on Spain reaching emission neutrality before 2050 and achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, places environmental education at the center of the debate.

In fact, the eighth of its nine epigraphs is dedicated to the inclusion of the climate crisis in the Spanish educational system. Specifically, the regulation contemplates the reinforcement of knowledge about climate change in the classrooms of schools, institutes and universities. The aim is for students to acquire social and personal responsibility to develop “technical and professional activities of the low carbon and resilient economy”.

Outdoor activities in the centers of Madrid

At the Polvoranca environmental education center in Madrid, they start the academic year with few visits. “The activities that used to be of 20 or 30 people, now are of six so the schools are just coming,” explains a worker from the center. Located in one of the autonomous communities with the highest incidence of Covid, here they only carry out outdoor activities, with a mask and respecting the distance. “If the center is in a confined district, it cannot come,” they say.

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Circular Economy series carried out in collaboration with the environmental organization Ecoembes

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