Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada have partnered to provide Globe and Mail readers with relevant coverage about issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries.
Dr. Jennifer Williams is the co-executive director and founder of Take Action Global, a non-profit organization committed to climate education for all. She is the author of Teach Boldly: Using Edtech for Social Good and is a Let’s Talk Science Coffee and a Keynote presenter Interconnected Learning: STEM and SDGs across the Curriculum
In 2015, our world came together with the United Nations to create an ambitious plan to take us into the future. Offered as an Agenda for Sustainable Development, 17 Global Goals, otherwise known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, became a roadmap for protecting our planet and its citizens.
For those of us working with children and youth, the Global Goals bring learning to life - providing a “checklist” of sorts for connecting concepts to action. They allow young people to investigate the world with purpose, seek out problems and discover solutions, and understand that one person on one part of the planet can create an impact that can cross both geography and time. They can be used to guide children and youth to be curious, creative constructors of knowledge and bold ideas.
The Global Goals themselves have natural connections to the conversations that always have taken place in our classrooms and homes. Covering topics such as Life On Land (SDG 15) and Life Below Water (SDG 14) to Gender Equality (SDG 5) and Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3), they span curriculum in sciences, technology, arts, humanities, math, and health and fitness. In our work as teachers, parents and caregivers, we have our very own Goal with SDG 4: Quality Education which calls on the world to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Enter as Co-Learners
The Global Goals create a perfect opportunity for adults to demonstrate vulnerability. Sometimes young people may think adults have all the answers and knowledge. This assumption can actually limit opportunities for students to take the lead of their own learning journeys. With adults and young people entering as co-learners, learning can be a process of discovery and exploration--full of questions and problems to be solved!
Connect to Interests
The Global Goals offer a place for everyone. If you want to go deep with a current instructional topic or if you want to make lines of connection to a new area of learning, the 17 Goals can become a space for exploring interests, talents, and skills.
Innovate, Build, Wonder, Solve
If we are to reach the 17 Global Goals by 2030, we will need innovative ideas and hands and minds taking action! Young people can work as investigators and builders--using science, research, and data to guide the way. SDG 13: Climate Action can be an ideal landing spot for your young learners. This Goal will require everyone, everywhere to consider daily activities and take action to protect the planet and safeguard our future.
But how can you use this “checklist” with the learners in your world? There are a few ways to get started! Check out these activities designed to help you explore the Global Goals roadmap.
As with all our checklists in life, don’t forget to enjoy the moments that lead you to accomplishing your tasks and goals. Sprinkle in some hope and optimism and celebrate small wins. This big goal--achieving the Global Goals--will take all of us. And, together all our little actions can add up to make a big difference. Best of luck to you and your young “Goal-keepers!”