York teacher candidates to lead a conference on the environment

On Feb. 27 at York University’s Teacher Education site at Georgian College, a remarkable conference will take place – Earthlings Without Borders. At various learning centres around the college, 46 soon-to-be-certified teacher candidates will meet with 140 gifted junior and intermediate students to take on the challenging issues facing the global environment.

The teacher candidates will lead the students through a series of day-long workshops that have been designed around a central theme of biomes – a scientific classification of the earth’s surface into areas of similar climates, plants and animals. The students will engage in a critical look at 10 of the Earth’s biomes and the human impact upon them.

As part of the conference, well-known environmentalist and educator Skid Crease will give the keynote address. Crease, a former York education professor, will provide a global "ecological forecast" and challenge conference participants to develop and demonstrate environmental literacy.

Judy Blaney, director of York’s Teacher Education Program at Georgian College, says, "We have two goals for this conference. The first is to provide our teacher candidates with the opportunity to apply their developing skills with differentiated instruction – student-based pedagogy that addresses students’ differing interests, learning profiles and levels of functioning.

"Our second goal is to work in partnership with the Simcoe County District School Board to organize an event that focuses on the critical theme of the global environment and our responsibilities as global citizens," says Blaney.

"As educators it is our moral imperative to ensure our teaching maintains a focus on exploring ways to connect study across different subjects with students’ own deeply felt questions about themselves and their world so that they feel empowered to make a difference," says Blaney.

The conference organizers refer to a recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which shows that changes in the Earth’s environment and global warming are a direct result of human activities. Organizers hope that Earthlings Without Borders will promote interest in the students in how to deal with the challenges relating to the changing Earth environment.