Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

What Is Green?

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

What Is Green?

Article excerpt

So you have signed the ITEA pledge to teach green and you have your "I TEACH GREEN" pin ... now what? Well it's going to be a journey, so strap in and start here. A brief caveat: I am not, nor have I ever been a technology teacher but I do consider some of your finest my friends, and I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night where I ate breakfast off a polystyrene plate with a plastic fork. So here is some advice from a "struggling to be green" human being and a "wannabe" technology teacher. And if you're short on time, I've even provided some "Green Teaching CliffsNotes" on page 10.

Why You Should Teach Green

From the moment we're born we start to have an impact on the environment. We begin to use finite resources, to create waste, and to pollute the renewable resources that are ever so delicately balanced. People have a generally depleting impact upon the resources of the earth, and as we approach a population count of seven billion, we are seeing the negative consequences of that many people on our environment. Anyone who teaches preteens or teenagers knows that the urge to procreate is strong, so the ultimate green act of helping to decrease the population by not replicating ourselves is probably not going to save us. So without that solution, how do we chase the mirage that is green and why should you put energy into it?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Your Impact. A Lesson in Critical Thinking

Everything has an impact on our environment, including biodiesel, solar energy, and carrying a reusable water bottle. Biodiesel can negatively impact the food supply by using valuable farmland to create fuel instead of food. One billion of our world's inhabitants are starving today. Solar panels are made from highly toxic materials that will create massive pollution at the end of their use, and your reusable water bottle is either made from plastics that will persist in the environment indefinitely or from aluminum that is probably produced from an Equatorial mine that pollutes water and harms local people. OK, bear with me--this isn't going to turn into a guilt diatribe at the end of which you will say, "Forget it; I may as well buy a Hummer." The steps toward green that we take as we begin to use alternative fuels and alter the way we behave as consumers are a pivotal part of our evolution. Remember that while people talk about saving the earth, we are really talking about saving the human race. The earth will still exist if people don't. If we destroy the elements on the earth that sustain our lives--drinking water, air that we can breathe, and food that we can eat--then we destroy ourselves, not necessarily the earth and everything else on it. The earth will survive, but humans won't. And the truth is that we don't want to just survive, we want to eat, drink, and be merry!

Your Students Are Ready

We are just awakening to the consequences of industrialization. Ironically, as we enjoy the benefits of plastics and aluminum and fossil fuels, we are questioning their use and striving to invent the next best materials. Humans are driven by the next best thing--as your students will be. When I was a classroom teacher, I remember that the greatest accolade that I could give students was to say "Wow, I have never seen it done that way." They are hooked on innovation, and "greenovation" can be the hook that makes your classroom more dynamic, your professional life more rewarding, and at the same time helps your students see how they can save the world. OK, it sounds a little like a Miss Universe speech, but go with it! Students get it--this is the generation that has grown up with the image of the polar bear struggling to survive on the ever-melting platform of ice; they have always recycled; and they have always lived with forest fires. You are negating their life experience if your green teaching consists merely of a unit you implement once a year.

Dr. John Warner, coauthor of the twelve principles of green chemistry, shows an illustration of a regular metal toolbox that can be found in any garage in the U. …

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