Subject area: Literacy, expressive arts, RME, health and wellbeing, sciences
Experiences and outcomes: SOC 2-08a/b, LIT 2-16a, LIT 2-02a, EXA 2-05, HWB 2-13a, SCN 2-01a, RME 2-05b
The aims of this lesson are to:
- Explore why legislation is needed to help protect the natural environment
- Understand that there are conflicting demands around how land is used and the different sorts of impact this has on wildlife
- Know what you can do to help
Before you begin, ask your class to look through the section The Wild Man Who Changed the World from the John Muir graphic novel, up to page 105.
Now split your pupils into pairs and provide them with copies of the proactive conservation activity worksheet and ask them to create a list of the different types of land use in Scotland, under the following headings:
Then organise the pairs into groups of four and ask them to share their lists and discuss 'the conflicting demands of our Scottish society on land use today'.
Explain that when John Muir was alive he became an environmental campaigner and created strong opposition to the building of the Hetch Hetchy dam in Yosemite. Ask your groups to discuss the reasons for and against building a dam. They should note their thoughts down on the worksheet proactive conservation activity.
As an extension activity, ask pupils to discuss John's views on nature tourism. John Muir was against the industrialisation of this landscape, but his views on hotels and other tourist services in the area are less clear. The Sierra Club was founded(this will open in a new window), after all, to 'explore, enjoy, and render accessible the mountain regions of the Pacific Coast'. Like with the dam activity, ask pupils to discuss the reasons for and against tourism in Yosemite. They might like to think about the impact of tourism in John Muir's day, versus the impact of tourists today on Yosemite.
Contemporary link for today
Now get the groups to list some leisure or sport activities that take place in the natural environment in Scotland. Let the groups discuss how they would answer the questions on their proactive conservation activity worksheets. Each group should note down their key points on their individual worksheets.
Once they have finished discussing their answers, each group should nominate a spokesperson to share their group's thoughts with the rest of the class.
When all the class have heard each other's thoughts, explain that John Muir became an environmental writer and campaigner later in his life, and founded the Sierra Club, which became a powerful environmental lobbying group. He said, 'I am hoping that we will be able to do something for the wilderness and make the mountains glad.'
What is the Sierra Club?
The Sierra Club was founded in 1892 with John Muir as it's first president. It was a group formed to explore and enjoy regions of the Pacific Coast, to publish authentic information concerning them and to preserve the forest and other natural resources of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. However, the group was overwhelmingly white, as the panel on page 106 shows. Many of it's early members also had links to white supremacist movements and held beliefs on eugenics. You can find our more about the groups earlier members and links to white supremacy on the Sierra Club website(this will open in a new window).
Now lead a discussion with your whole class using the information on the proactive conservation worksheet to explore what they could all do to help the natural environment.
Create and display a 'Commitments Chart' to hang on the wall in your classroom detailing all the things your class are going to do. Follow up their ideas as further work.
They should research and investigate the reasons for setting up national parks in different parts of the world such as England, New Zealand, Kenya or Japan. Pupils can use the National Parks website(this will open in a new window) to find national parks across the world, and begin to research how and why they have been established.
Reflecting on learning
- Had your pupils considered how they (and other people) make use of the natural landscape?
- Do your pupils care about their school/local/national environment?
- Do they take care of the natural landscape?
- Can they do anything to ensure the countryside/wildlife is preserved for the future?
- Do the pupils and teachers in your school think about how they live their lives? Are they wasteful? Do they recycle?
- Identify different types of land use
- Discuss the environmental impact of human activity on the landscape
- Understand conflicting demands around land use and the impact on the natural environment
- Recognise why legislation is required to help protect the natural environment
- Identify what they can do to help by suggesting ways that we can all be more environmentally responsible
- Apply a variety of approaches including, for example, creating a campaign using different communication methods such as letter writing, participating in an Eco-Schools group committee, preparing a newspaper report or writing a script for a documentary film about conservation work in Scotland
Eco-Schools Scotland(this will open in a new window)
For more ideas and activities to use with this section consider setting up your own Eco-Schools Committee.
Guerrilla Gardening(this will open in a new window)
A blog about a London-based group who have established green spaces in urban environments.
Learning through Landscapes(this will open in a new window)
The suggested activities on this website provide directed learning approaches.
The John Muir Award (this will open in a new window)
An environmental award that encourages people to connect with, enjoy, and care for wild places.
We Have a Dream: Meet 30 Young Indigenous People and People of Colour Protecting the Planet(this will open in a new window)
This book is a great places to start when researching contemporary activists.