Tying Active Travel into Curriculum
Manitoba Education’s 2011 Guide for Sustainable Schools in Manitoba has a clear position on transportation: “We have become a car-dependent society. The result is a growing list of environmental, social, and health impacts. Transport issues directly affect schools and staff and students in terms of road safety, ecosystem impacts, and health and fitness… Sustainable schools seek sustainable transport solutions—transport that reduces fuel consumption, pollution, and car use. Every school can change its travel footprint, improving safety, reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions, increasing physical activity for children, and reducing school transportation budgets.”
We know that teachers want their students to be healthy and environmentally aware. We also know how busy teachers are, and that being a champion for active travel events in their schools can cut into their already limited time.
Fortunately, active travel connects to the curriculum elements that teachers are already required to cover.
- Education for Sustainable Development
- English Language Arts
- Physical Education/Health
- Social Studies
- Additional Languages
Manitoba Education has identified Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as one of its six priority action areas. The 2011 Guide for Sustainable Schools in Manitoba promotes the kinds of programming that we provide at Active and Safe Routes to School.
- “The Guide (for Sustainable Schools in Manitoba) seeks to assist Manitoba schools in moving beyond sustainability awareness raising, by undertaking concrete, action-oriented learning activities, integrated with school curricula, leading to teaching for sustainability as an integral component of school planning”
- “ESD moves from students learning about sustainable development to students experiencing how to live sustainably. It therefore encourages linking ideas to action.”
- “First Overarching Goal: To ensure education in Manitoba supports students experiencing and learning about what it means to live in a sustainable manner.”
- “Different policies that exist around sustainability issues include school bus fleet management (such as anti-idling policies), and active transportation”
- “Connecting to the Curriculum gives relevance to the SSP activities and leads to real benefits both in terms of helping teachers to engage students and in creating real-life learning opportunities.”
Social Studies topics have endless possibilities for connecting to active travel, but there are a few broad connections that can be linked to any discussion relating to the environment, belonging to a community, culture, history, and meeting needs.
- Protecting the environment and our health with rules and responsibilities
- Using active travel to engage directly with the people in our communities and local landmarks
- Solving conflicts through respectful processes (how can we make the community around the school safer for walking and biking?)
- Meeting the human needs to be part of a community, be active, and to have a clean environment
- Creating art to express their feelings on what their ideal community would look like
- Solving problems through civic engagement (reporting traffic problems in the community)
- Recognizing the impact of motorized travel on community safety, health, and the environment
- Influencing others’ choices, and others influencing our own (how do students feel about walking or biking to school? How would their parents feel? How can we make this possible?)
- Taking leadership to influence change
- Learning about how active travel is much more common in other cultures (China, India, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands)
- Changing communities over time (how the arrival of cars changed streets and safety; how children are much less likely to walk to school today than 50 years ago)
- Adapting to the seasons (how we can continue being active in the winter)
- How choosing to walk or bike results in decreased pollution and traffic locally, and a healthier planet
- Discussing the notion of human rights, which include a clean environment, the right to health, and the right to play
All middle years grades can be linked to active travel, grade 7 in particular is rich in curriculum ties as students start to analyze why our society is the way it is, how societies worldwide differ, the quality of life concept, and how our actions have an impact on other people in the global environment.
- Discuss the changing ways in which we use street space, starting from early urbanization in Canada (horses, bikes, walking and streetcars to primarily cars and buses)
- Recognize that we as a society determine how we use space, which includes our streets, and that cars haven’t always been so dominant
- Discuss the barriers that a 4-season climate like ours poses to walking and biking, and how other societies have overcome these.
- Awareness of how our daily choices, including transportation, may affect others
- Discuss the benefits of motorized transportation in the modern world, but also how their negative influences
- Discuss how westernization of asian countries has contributed to trouble in cities (congestion and pollution in India and China)
- Discuss the model of European cities that are less dependent on cars and more on transit, walking, and biking
- Ways we can reduce our contribution to climate change
- The effect that having streets where it is safe to play, run, and ride can have on our happiness and well-being.
- Take leadership on a cause they believe in