Wild GCSEs

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our Wild World -

I read Mary Col­well’s ar­ti­cle on in­tro­duc­ing a nat­u­ral his­tory GCSE (Life lessons, March 2019) and I looked fondly at the il­lus­tra­tion by Harry Ten­nant that segues from chil­dren in the class­room to chil­dren ex­plor­ing na­ture. And I won­dered, where does this place ex­ist?

The re­al­ity is that peo­ple in this coun­try have no in­ter­est in na­ture, or have an in­ter­est but feel dis­tant from it, be­cause we don’t have any ac­cess to na­ture.

This dis­tanc­ing from the coun­try­side is a sub­stan­tial part of the rea­son why peo­ple have not stood up in arms and com­plained about the de­struc­tion of wildlife habi­tats in this coun­try. David Ben­nett, Cam­bridge

Nat­u­ral his­tory could cer­tainly be in­tro­duced into the cur­ricu­lum from pri­mary school up to GCSE, with an op­tion at A level. Mod­ern syl­labi are re­stric­tive and framed around the rel­e­vant exam, deny­ing teach­ers the free­dom to ex­er­cise pro­fes­sional judge­ment.

As a bi­ol­ogy grad­u­ate who taught the topic for many years, I al­ways thought it in­con­gru­ous that it is per­fectly pos­si­ble to study the sub­ject with­out any ex­pe­ri­ence of the world around one. The prob­lem now is that we not only lack the teach­ers to de­liver this sub­ject, but also the train­ers to train them. Jim Pear­son, via email

I urge Mary Col­well and BBC Wildlife Magazine read­ers to press for this GCSE to be set up for the ben­e­fit of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions and the preser­va­tion of our wildlife.

I have long be­lieved that this vi­tal sub­ject should be taught to school­child­ren of all ages. Our world is un­der threat; we have to teach our chil­dren to care for it. If we don’t do this through the school sys­tem, how else are we go­ing to en­sure that young peo­ple are at least aware of what they are go­ing to lose? Caro­line Am­phlett, via email

Could a GSCE open chil­dren’s eyes to the joys and chal­lenges of the nat­u­ral world around them?

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