I am moved by the many ways in which researchers, and youth activists have worked to give youth a voice. This has given youth of all races, ethnicities, genders, socioeconomic class, and privileges agency to stand up for what is right and what they believe needs to be fixed in society. Chapter 18 in “Beyond Resistance” outlines many ways in which youth centered programs have aided in giving a voice to youth of all backgrounds a voice; however, I find it troubling that there are no environmental issues brought to youth’s attention to give them a voice to fight for the environment. Environmental concerns are a cornerstone to many of the problems that we have in the world today and more importantly the world of today is the world that we are leaving for the youth of today.
It is not uncommon to hear anyone say that “Children are our future,” yet we continue to pollute the air, add toxins to the water, continue using large amounts of oil, burn coal, and argue over concerns of climate change. Even if one does not agree on some or any of these issues, many are a reality and can even be seen from your backdoor or in your local newspaper. I am not going to argue that racial, gender, sexual, and lingual issues are not important, they are, but I find it troubling that we have huge environmental issues going on today and no one is informing the youth of today of the world that they will be receiving. Everyone in the world, including youth, deserve to know what we as a society are doing to the planet and should be angered by what we are not doing.
As a person who would position themselves as an environmentalist, I believe that it is our job to get youth involved when it comes to the environment. The planet does not belong to those in power or even those that have the right to vote, but to every living being. We should be educating our youth about the concerns of the environment and inviting them to the conversation. More importantly we should be rekindling the lost relationships to nature and the natural world that our society has lost. David Orr talks about the restructure of education, in creating a model of education to emphasize biophilia. The education system has made textbook learning the standard while ignoring the principles of nature where those concepts have been learned. We are telling youth to learn rules and formulas without even questioning ourselves if those are right or where they came from. Orr argues, that in moving away from nature we have become unintelligent as a society since we have stopped questioning the order of things and just take things for what they are. I hope that there is a change in the way we educate youth and begin to become students of the environment.