Coral Reef threat to 25 percent of all marine creatures

Ravished oceans: Coral Reef Bleaching

As reported by Aljazeera: Half the corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have died over the past 25 years. Climate change is irreversibly destroying the World Heritage-listed underwater ecosystem.

Coral reefs teem with life, covering less than one percent of the ocean floor, but supporting about 25 percent of all marine creatures.

“They buffer shorelines from the effects of hurricanes. An estimated 500 million people earn their livelihoods from the fishing stocks and tourism opportunities reefs provide. The tiny animals that give rise to reefs are even offering hope for new drugs to treat cancer and other diseases.” [National Geographic]

Due to global warming and warming seas, the coral is disappearing fast.

Over the last year, about 12 percent of the world’s reefs have bleached, due to El Niño and climate change. Scientists have predicted that nearly half of these reefs (more than 4,600 square miles or 12,000 square kilometers, or more than five percent of reefs) could disappear forever.

Life-Based Learning takes the issue of the environment seriously as one of nine equal priority themes through which all subject learning is channelled. The Physical World Theme teaches children about how environments can change as a result of human actions..

Make it, use it, throw it

Ravished oceans: Eternal Plastic

Preparing children for tomorrow’s world today

‘Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That is the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.’

Many plastics break down into smaller non-biodegradable micro sized pieces, as demonstrated by pulverising a foam polystyrene cup. Micro plastics pieces form the cloudy soup of plastic ocean swirls, the most notorious of which is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

‘Located in the South Pacific, Henderson Island is one of the worst places affected by plastic pollution, holding the highest density of plastic debris in the world. Around 3 500 to 13 500 new plastic items wash up here every day. The island’s East Beach spans 2km, and is polluted by 30 million plastic items.’

Lentil sized plastic pellets  known as ‘nurdles’ litter 205 of 275 British Isles beaches from Shetland to Scilly. The largest number recorded in the Great Winter Nurdle Hunt weekend in early February were found at Widemouth Bay in Cornwall, where 33 volunteers from the Widemouth Task Force collected about 127,500 pellets on a 100-metre stretch of beach.

Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year, from birds to fish to other marine organisms. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics. Nearly every species of seabird eats plastics.

Plastics absorb pollutants, making them poisonous to fish and we eat the fish.

Life-Based Learning brings children’s learning of science and geography to life – in the National Curriculum in England for children 5 to 11 years of age – by preparing children for the real world as adults.

What is to be done with super trawlers?

Ravished oceans: A trilogy: part one: A Fishy Tale. Preparing children for tomorrow’s world today

‘Sea monsters’, the size of football fields, trawl nets hundreds of metres long, catching everything in their path. These refrigerated, factory ships can catch and process up to 250 tons of fish a day.

‘Bycatch’ is the euphemistic term for everything unwanted caught up in the nets to be shovelled back into the ocean – juvenile fish, non-commercial fish, dolphins, turtles, porpoises, sharks, small whales and seals.

Bottom trawling nets scrape the ocean floor. Small hole shrimp nets are especially indiscriminate. They deplete marine fauna, destabilise the marine floor and cause excessive bycatch for every shrimp caught.

Bycatch – difficult to estimate – is put at  63 billion pounds of unwanted catch caught every year, responsible for 40% of the worlds annual marine catch.

Life-Based Learning, for 5 to 11 year old children, includes learning about the human footprint in its Physical World theme.

Trilogy: parts two and three to follow:

Children Delighted with ‘Standing Ovation’

Life-Based Learning channels all subject learning through its nine life themes for children between the ages of 5 to 11. One of the life themes is the introduction to the concept and practise of pupils growing up to be participating members of the community in proactive ways.

It is a concept given, as yet, only token practice by schools. The question is, ‘What constitutes genuine practice?’

Well, there is an example I came across on the internet – a superb example.

“The ‘Standing Ovation Project’ works with schools to raise self-esteem and confidence of children through the creative arts. In 2017, it won Outstanding Contribution to Local Community at the Education Awards in association with Birmingham City University.”

I am not sure how active the project is in the current circumstances, but that does not detract from its description of how it has worked and can work.

Tilting at windmills

Statistics lend credibility to information, or so they say. Anyway, here are three stats to ponder:

  1. The National Audit Office [September 2020] identified 20.2% of 10 to 11 year-old children as obese in 2018/19.
  2. Digital NHS UK states adult overweight/obesity in 2018 as 67% men and 60% women
  3. On present trends, the vast majority of our children will be overweight or obese in their adult life – and expect one or more diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, vascular dementia to blight their lives and reduce their life expectancy.

The government’s ‘Childhood obesity: a plan for action’  created in August 2016 [Updated January 2017] is making no significant difference to curb the inexorable increase in obesity in children.

As outlined in the Ofsted report, ‘Obesity, healthy eating and physical activity in primary schools’, [Age group 5-11: Published July 2018],  Schools ‘have responsibility for a curriculum that gives children a solid body of knowledge about healthy living and the skill to pursue it.’

With no appreciable difference being made to counter the increasing numbers of children becoming obese, all the reports and government exhortations to improve children’s health are tilting at windmills.

The radical solution is to raise the attention and focus on fitness and health.

MAC does this by increasing the attention to children’s fitness and health as one of nine priority themes through which all learning is channelled.

The Body Theme tackles children’s fitness and health in a relentless and focused whole curriculum approach.

“Explosion” of anxiety levels in young people, says report

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

A recent report has found that anxiety among young people has trebled in the last 20 years.

The lead researcher was Professor Nick Freemantle of UCL. The findings were published in September 2020 in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

The report highlights a clear generational divide, with anxiety levels rising much more steeply among young people.

Prof Freemantle said: “Given the steep increases in anxiety revealed by this research, and the sheer number of people affected, it is now clear that Britain has a really serious and worsening problem with anxiety, which can have devastating effects on people’s lives.”

Brian Dow, from the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: “There is clearly a systemic problem in the growth of anxiety and depression amongst younger people. If we are to reverse this trend and prevent a problem becoming a crisis, the social contract we provide to young people has to have a better set of terms and conditions.”

Life-based learning takes the issue of mental health seriously. The Emotions is one of nine life themes, each with equal priority, that form of the framework of a life-based curriculum.

A life-based curriculum will help children to grow up emotionally resilient, able to look after themselves and contribute positively to their communities.


Find out more about the Emotions learning theme, one of nine learning themes that form the framework of a life-based curriculum.

Covid-19 and child trauma: What role should schools be playing?

Under the title ‘Every Mind Matters‘ the NHS has issued advice to parents on looking after a child or young person’s mental health.

Imagine the scenarios: an elderly relative has Covid, or has died from Covid; grandparents are socially isolating and not available to look after the children; there is no break in the monotony; one or both parents have lost their jobs; the child is witness to an increase in disharmony in the home; the child is sent home from school to social isolate due to a Covid outbreak in school and can’t be looked after; parents are visiting food banks and falling into debt; rent is in arrears and cold winter is around the corner.

Even before Covid, a quarter of children were showing signs of mental ill-health [according to a Public Health England report] and three quarters of adults separately reported they found it hard to cope at some point in the year.

What does the school do?

The brutal answer is: schools are not set up to provide the emotional learning pupils need to manage the stress, anxiety and even mental ill-health they will encounter in their lives.

The long term objective of life-based learning is to make emotional development a theme all to itself, one of only nine life-based themes — such is its importance.

Through life-based learning, children learn emotional resilience by developing self-awareness, emotional self-regulation and feelings of self-worth as a central learning objective.

We are talking serious focus on what is a serious problem for individuals and society.

In the meantime, I hope schools find whatever resources they need, and teachers give whatever time they can, to support the children in their charge through these unprecedented times.

Life-based learning on the environment ahead of the times?

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Last night David Attenborough, in the BBC documentary ‘Extinction: The Facts‘ tolled the bell on worldwide loss of habitat and biodiversity, threats to species and extinction of not just wild animals, but putting human existence itself at risk. Pulling no punches, Attenborough banged that bell to hell.

Unfortunately, while the message is not new, human impact on the environment is ever on the increase.

Only last week the Living Planet Report showed that, on average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles plunged by 68 per cent between 1970 and 2016.

The Independent Tackling the extinction crisis is everyone’s responsibility – and time is running short

One of the nine themes of Life-Based Learning [along with Plant Life and Animal Life] is ‘The Physical World‘. Children in Primary School learn scientific and geographical concepts, knowledge, techniques and skills through their exploration of the damage to the world’s physical resources by human activity and the impact this is having on life and living.

Is it too much to hope that the National Curriculum subjects can be rearranged to ensure our young children are prepared to meet the environmental challenges they will face as adults?

Collapse in wildlife populations caused by human activity

Image by Ylvers from Pixabay

According to the newly published Living Planet Report 2020, wildlife populations are in freefall around the world, and the principal cause is human activity.

It says that, on average, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles fell by 68% between 1970 and 2016.

According to the Guardian, the report found that “from the rainforests of central Africa to the Pacific Ocean, nature was being exploited and destroyed by humans on a scale never previously recorded.”

The devastation of wildlife is principally caused by:

  • human overconsumption
  • population growth
  • intensive agriculture

Sir David Attenborough is quoted as saying that this could be the moment we [humans] learn to become stewards of the planet. “Above all,” he says, “it will require a change in perspective.”

Animal life is one of the nine themes that are at the heart of the life-based learning curriculum for children aged 5 to 11.

Life-based learning focuses on the value of animals to humanity and aims to foster in children an interest in the need to preserve animal diversity, protect animal habitats and manage the use of animals in sustainable ways to the mutual benefit of humans and the planet.

Above all, it ensures that children are sensitised to the issues facing animals caused by human use of animals and their environments.

Greenland and Antarctica are melting at rates matching ‘worse-case scenario’ predictions

Image by InstaWalli Official from Pixabay

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, has confirmed the polar ice caps are losing mass at rates threatening dire sea-level rise.

As reported in the Express:

  • Trillions of tons of ice are melting
  • The melt has caused a sea level rise estimated at 17.8 mm
  • The melt contributes to coastal flooding, shifting ocean currents and extreme weather events
  • A further 6.7 inches (17 cm) rise is predicted by the end of the century to impact on millions of people.

Life-based learning gives children the foundation concepts, knowledge, attitudes and values to contribute positively in their adult lives to finding life-sustainable solutions. Life-based learning prioritises learning about and looking after the physical world.