Do the eco-warrior actions of Generation Z contradict Harvard Education’s recommendations around environmental education?

Jan 10, 2011 3:25 PM ET

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) January 10, 2011 - Youthologist Lee Fox, founder of KooDooZ, asks educators to consider whether the eco-warrior actions of Generation Z contradict Harvard Education’s recommendations around environmental education.  

A Harvard Education Letter, entitled “The Greening of Environmental Education” released on January 6th, 2011 stated the number-one rule for teaching young elementary school students about the environment is to veer away from the darker side of the equation.   According to Fox, this strategy may prove to undermine classroom relevancy to kids of Generation Z – whose media literacy – and access to world wide web information – don’t have as much of a palette for sugar-coated conversations.   “If marketers are going to float polar bears on a shrinking iceberg to advertise their product,” says Fox, “shouldn’t classrooms – a place where fears can be properly addressed – have the same opportunity to discuss these topics?”   Educators may be taking their cues from psychologists, whose findings reflect that giving children scary environmental facts will serve to (i) make problems seem unsolvable; (ii) label individual action as unimportant; and (iii) convey an overall sense of hopelessness and helplessness to children.   Fox contends that (environmental) educators should take their cues from the kids themselves. “At the very least, our classrooms need to align their content with the media consumption of their student body,” says Fox. “Psychologists tell us that in the period between the 2nd and 5th grades, kids develop a major increase in emotional concern and affection for animals. It’s also during that time of life that GenZ kids are online. (eMarketer estimates that 43.5% of children ages 3 to 11 use the internet on a monthly basis.) Animals that we can’t even find at our local zoo can be discovered on the web, and when coupled with interactive multimedia components, these far-away creatures – and their plight -- can become very real.  What was true for yesteryear's kid, may not be true today.”       For Generation Z, interacting online is “second nature” and is as important as interacting in the “real world.” In her blog post, entitled: GenZ… the Eco-Warriors…, Fox posted an interview between a KooDooZ youth advisory board member and two elementary school children – founders of a non-profit dedicated to helping all endangered species survive at least One More Generation… and beyond. Halfway through the interview the question is asked: “What are some scary facts about animals that we should know about?” Carter and Olivia Reis, founders of OMG are quick to answer with statistics and visual facts, likely to be disturbing to anyone, at any age.  

For additional details on Generation Z and their altruistic traits, also see: Giving: With a Touch of “Me” authored by Fox for Bloganthropy last month.

About KooDooZ
KooDooZ (Kü - Düz) is a “cause-based” social networking site designed to cultivate youth social entrepreneurs by “challenging” them to achieve specific philanthropic goals. In partnership with nonprofits, educators, and profit-for-purpose organizations, each challenge is authored with easy-to-follow methodologies and anticipated times to complete. By sharing these challenges with friends and family, kids can virally garner support for the causes they care about most and earn credit towards the President’s Volunteer Service Award for those tasks that meet volunteerism, community service and service learning standards. For more information, visit