Ten educators from State and Church eco-schools, NGOs, academics and environmental activists recently attended a conference entitled Menu for Change in Prague, Czech Republic, as part of the We Eat Responsibly project. It was also attended by 110 other participants from nine EU countries also taking part in the three-year project.
The participants discussed the many ills of the world’s food systems. A major focus of the project is palm oil, which is used in about 50 per cent of all packaged food products to make them last longer but which has no substantial nutritional value.
In order to produce palm oil, huge swathes of rainforest, mainly in Indonesia, are being burned to grow non-indigenous palm trees, leading to deforestation, forced eviction of indigenous tribes, climate change, soil erosion and loss of habitat for endangered species.
During the conference a workshop called ‘Critical thinking – how to orient in a tricky information world?’, led by Lukas Hana, was held to train the participants in how to develop students’ critical thinking and educate them to be global citizens. Hana explained that we live in a world of misinformation, where the agendas hide vested interests of obscene greed and nihilistic egotism, and it is difficult to zone out the noise, and separate truth from lies and distortions.
Hana stressed that students need to be equipped with the ability to evaluate the information that they are bombarded with. He said: “They need to ask questions like: Do different sources provide the same data? How reliable are these sources? What questions do we need to ask?”
Two other workshops were held to help teachers deliver these skills. These were ‘Creating change in your classroom: pedagogical tools and resources for global learning’, led by Sarah Williams, and ‘Thinking and Learning in a Global Context: What is the Big Educational idea?’ led by Andrea Bullivant.