LILLEY: Scaring children in the name of climate change

Callooh Callay

Lejla Blazevic has every right to be concerned about how her daughter was taught about climate change. If you haven’t heard about her story, Blazevic is the Toronto mother who raised the alarm after her 8-year-old daughter, Joylaea, came home in October saying, “Mommy, they said that we’re going to […]

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Lejla Blazevic has every right to be concerned about how her daughter was taught about climate change.

If you haven’t heard about her story, Blazevic is the Toronto mother who raised the alarm after her 8-year-old daughter, Joylaea, came home in October saying, “Mommy, they said that we’re going to die in eight years.”

That was the reaction of a young child to being shown a video of climate activist Greta Thunberg’s “How dare you!” speech and being shown a countdown clock.

Now, I’ve spoken to Lejla Blazevic, reviewed her email correspondence with school officials, looked at the material that was presented that day to the children in Grades 2 and 3, and spoken to the Toronto district school board.

Nowhere is there evidence that the children were told they’d die in eight years due to climate change.

But when you look at what they were presented, you can easily understand why that is a message some kids in the class would take home.

With the image of a countdown clock showing that there is just eight years left before too much CO2 is emitted and the world falls into catastrophic and irreversible climate change, Thunberg’s apocalyptic speech was shown.

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” Thunberg says in her speech.

What message would you take away from that if you were 7 or 8 years old?

You’re told straight up that people are dying, that ecosystems are collapsing and that there is mass extinction, while at the same time being shown a countdown clock depicting that just eight years are left. That could scare adults, never mind children without the fully developed mental capacity to take in and process the information.

Blazevic has been corresponding with school officials over this for months and only recently went to the media to raise her concerns. She says, and the evidence appears to back her up, that the school has changed its story several times.

The school and the board are obviously covering their butts on this and being defensive. Let’s be honest here, the children weren’t told they were all going to die in eight years, but they were presented material that was too advanced for them.

Blazevic told Postmedia Network she has no issue with her daughter being taught about climate change, only how it was taught.

“They have to have some kind of guidelines and some kind of limit as to what they’re going to show 7-year-olds,” Blazevic said.

Scaring children shouldn’t be high on the agenda of any teacher, librarian or school board. The librarian who presented the material to the students said it was meant to inspire and show the children they can make a difference in the world.

Simply because adults are inspired by Greta doesn’t mean children will be. As for using Greta as an example, the presentation in question might work for an older grade but not for younger students.

Enough with frightening children with climate fears of the end being nigh. We can teach them to care for the planet without making them think they have no future on it.

blilley@postmedia.com

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