Finding Useful Eco Teaching Resources
Despite the vast amount of green-themed information, websites, blogs and books widely available, finding really useful eco-teaching resources can, surprisingly, sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Like so many things, however, it’s really just a question of knowing where to look – and the good news is, there’s no shortage of people and organisations prepared to help, once you know who to ask.
What Are You Looking For?The first thing to be clear about is what you’re actually looking for; it sounds an obvious piece of advice, but it’s surprising how easy it can be to forget that the ‘eco’ umbrella covers an incredibly large number of topics. While some sources may well be involved with everything from energy to elephants, many are a lot more tightly focused, so settling on some general topic areas or issues can be a very helpful first step.
Government SourcesThe various ministries and government departments can be a very good place to start your search for information and resources. With all this political will to make the UK increasingly green, just about every remotely environmentally friendly activity you can think of, from water quality to waste management, has some kind of regulation, government guideline or advice line attached. Nine times out of ten that means a forest of readily available information and often educational resources just waiting for you to ask. After all, you might as well get something back for all your taxes!
Commercial CompaniesBusinesses involved in green technologies are another good potential source. Many of the larger firms, such as the various water companies and energy suppliers, have ready-made teaching packs suitable for all ages and abilities – and they can often be good for a school trip, too! Don’t discount the supposed villains of the piece either; despite their poor reputation amongst eco-activists, the oil companies and large agri-businesses, for example, are often some of the biggest investors in clean technology, so it’s worth seeing what they have to offer. You might be surprised at how helpful they are, not to mention how hard some of them really are trying to do their bit.
Of course, all commercial companies are ultimately out to make money, which means there will inevitably be a bit of ‘singing their own praises’ going on in their material, but provided you remain aware of that, there’s plenty of good stuff to be had.
Societies and Voluntary BodiesDepending on what aspect of ‘eco’ you’re interested in, there’s often a voluntary body or society you can turn to for some help, particularly when it comes to things like wildlife, conservation or the countryside. Some of these groups are very small, so what is likely to be on offer will obviously vary, but most will have a selection of leaflets, booklets and online resources, while some may have prepared educational packs or be able to provide expert speakers to come into the classroom.
Local CouncilsIt’s also worth trying your own local authority, and not just the education department. A lot of what councils do is broadly relevant to the eco theme – from pest control and managing public spaces, to recycling and transport – making them another likely source of a good deal of useful information, as well as a potential speaker or two. Council officers are a friendly bunch on the whole and faced with this kind of a request, they’ll generally bend over backwards to help if they possibly can, so it’s definitely worth getting in touch. Even if they can’t help directly, there’s not much about the local area that they don’t get to hear about, so if anyone can point you in the right direction to get what you need, it’s likely to be them.
There’s also no shortage of information available online, although you do, as always, have to keep your wits about you to make sure that the quality of the information is all that it should be, and not just someone’s personal opinion or hobby-horse. Provided you stay with reputable sources, however, you’ll be fine – but then you knew that already!