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John Muir: proactive conservation

Subject area: Literacy, expressive arts, RME, health and wellbeing, sciences

Experiences and outcomes: SOC 3-08a, ENG 3-27a, LIT 3-16a, LIT 3-02a, LIT 3-09a, EXA 2-05, EXA 3-14a, HWB 3-13a, HWB 3-13a, SCN 4-01a, RME 3-05b

The aims of this lesson are to:

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.

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.’

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.

Reflecting on learning

Learners can:

Useful resources

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.