As a country and as a planet we are facing increasing environmental problems yet continue to behave in ways that are damaging to our own health and to the planet. The fact that people do not always behave environmentally does not necessarily mean they are not concerned. Although many people are aware of and care about environmental problems, this is not always reflected in behaviour. Research is now starting to show there is a link between connection with nature and pro-environmental behaviour.
BirdLife Malta is currently developing new resources and teacher training to ensure that learning about the environment doesn’t just include classroom based knowledge but also hands on experience outdoors. These resources are being developed through an Erasmus+ funded project Lifelong Learning through Nature, and the project partners from BirdWatch Ireland and Polish Society for the Protection of Birds are currently visiting Malta to see first-hand the new resources being delivered.
Yesterday the group participated in a teacher training session designed to provide teachers will the skills and confidence to use one of the new resources, specifically for early years. This was then demonstrated today by teachers from Zabbar A Primary School who brought students to Buskett and engaged them in these hands-on sensory activities.
“From my class of 18 only 3 of them had ever been to Buskett before, there is a big need for schools to make sure that students are getting to see natural places like this or they will never understand the need to protect them”, explained Ms Isabelle Farrugia, Year 2 teacher at Zabbar A Primary School.
The resources which have been developed and trialed in Malta are also being researched through contacts at the University of Malta to assess their impact. This information will help the organisation to continue to grow and develop along with changing trends. Following this international training week the next exciting step for the project will be for the Polish and Irish partners to take the ideas and resources and adapt them for their own situation.
Niall Hatch, from BirdWatch Ireland said: “having the knowledge of what has worked for Malta and the research to show the impact and how important this work is will be vital in Ireland to get our organisation, schools and teachers on board with doing more outdoor education.” He also explained that, “while we might have a lot more natural habitat in Ireland (compared to Malta) young people are very disengaged and there is a real need to re-connect children with nature.”
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
To read the Maltese version of the press release, click here.