If we are going to turn towards a life of simplicity, we are going to need to learn about ways to live more simply. Since a movement of magnitude large enough will span many generations, we need to both change our current habits and teach our children about new ways of living. Some kids have parents that know how human actions affect the environment, but for those that don’t, school classes could prove valuable to learning simplicity. For the sake of simplicity (pun intended), let us focus on public schools.
Provided a solution to the curse of the shrinking budget is found; public schools could have classes that teach a variety of tricks related to simple living. Even if our money problems are not resolved, schools could still be a core part of the simplicity movement by teaching students how to use non-renewable resources efficiently.
In one of my conversations, a man mentioned how his daughter had come home from her school one day with water-saving tips for her family to implement. The class she’d received the tips in was science, which is very fitting. If all science classes devoted a week to discussing water usage during their water units, imagine the change that could happen. Teachers could even call in environmental awareness groups to do the water-saving lessons. A similar thing could be done for electricity usage.
To reduce our fossil fuel usage, we could change driver’s education to be more forward-thinking. The course’s main objective would still be to teach students how to drive cars safely. However, another objective would be to teach about and encourage students to use bikes and public transit whenever possible. Ideally, they would be given a biking or transit related discount as well.
At my elementary school, there was a garden where the vegetables grown were used in school lunches. Kids learned about the importance of fruit and vegetables in staying healthy through a before-school garden program. They had the opportunity to taste-test healthy recipes as well. Neither my middle school nor my high school had a similar program while I was there.
The key to retaining valuable information like this is repetition. In a world filled with all sorts of processed foods that are cheaper and more aggressively advertised than healthier options, it is especially important that kids know how to eat well. This goes for all simplicity-related learning. Through repetition, simple-living can become habit. Practice a certain aspect of simple-living, and once it becomes automatic, move on to a new tip.
In a world that is facing the largest environmental crisis in its history, we have no time to waste (pun not intended). We need to pull out all the stops in order to survive. Parents can teach simple-living habits, but an even better way to ensure that kids grow up knowing how to live simply is to teach it to them in school.
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