Protecting Our Blue Planet Through Ocean Optimism

Protecting Our Blue Planet Through Ocean Optimism

Written by Karen Willcocks, Ocean Conservation Trust

Here at the Ocean Conservation Trust, we are really excited by the idea of a Natural History General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in the United Kingdom. If this subject had been available to us as young people, I’m positive many of us would have jumped at the opportunity!

As an ocean conservation charity, we believe that connecting with nature is vital in influencing positive behaviour change. The more deeply we connect with nature and learn about its importance to our survival, the more we are likely to act to protect it.

The introduction of a GCSE in Natural History is not only a perfect opportunity to connect young people with woodlands, mountains, forests, and the fauna and flora that can be found there, but also to connect them with our blue planet. The ocean can be used as a tool to inspire and engage students, allowing them to build positive connections with the natural world. Through doing so, pupils’ knowledge of ocean literacy will expand, as they build an understanding of how we impact the ocean, and how the ocean impacts us. We are all connected to and rely on the ocean, whether it’s through the air we breathe, the water we use or the food we eat. I wonder how many young people realize the phones they use are made from metals found in the deep ocean, or that the ocean provides the human population with rich supplies of important medicines?

With the issue of climate change being increasingly in the public eye, it is more important now than ever that young people understand how our survival depends on the protection of the ocean, and the positive behavioural changes we can make to ensure a bright future for our planet. A focus on the decline of nature and human destruction is not what our charity is about.

Ocean Optimism is at the heart of what we do, inspiring people to focus on the solutions and meaningful changes that every single one of us can make. A big part of communicating science in a positive way is through framing important conservation messages. According to the Positive Communication Toolkit, a document developed by the online hub Conservation Optimism ,we do not want the younger generation to feel hopeless through framing information negatively, but rather, we must deliver information in such a way that pupils can connect to their true beliefs and values. We must make them realize that endless opportunities for positive change await them, whether through their pro-environmental behaviour, influencing behavioural change in others, or scientific research in their studies or future careers. Teachers can play a huge part in this, and what better way than through teaching a GCSE in Natural History!

The educators at the OCT have had the privilege of seeing students connect with the ocean first-hand whilst delivering our learning programme to school groups across all key stages. To see similar connections being made in secondary schools across the country, at a time where young people’s environmental attitudes are more important than ever, would mean something incredibly special for marine conservation charities everywhere.


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