Updated: Sep 5
I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to help deliver three 2-hour climate justice workshops and five 1-hour ones so far, with hopefully many more coming up! It’s been an amazing experience, thanks to the interesting workshop content from UKYCC, the helpful training, organisation, and friendly smiles of VFF, the valuable tips from the teachers, and above all the amazing young people who have participated and tried something new. I think we were all expecting the students to be quite apprehensive at strangers coming into their classroom and asking them to think about overwhelming and pretty terrifying topics, so it was such a pleasant surprise to see most classes really engaged from the start.
My favourite part of the workshop is definitely the campaign exercise, where we get to talk to the students about what issues they care about and help them brainstorm solutions. I think that’s the part where it clicks for most students that it is absolutely within their power to change things, as long as they are willing to put some effort and time in. I also appreciate that we have a section on eco-anxiety, because I think it would’ve made a huge difference to my mental health at that age if anyone had talked to me about it.
Personally, I have found the different approaches schools take to teaching and discipline fascinating. I study Psychology with Education, so it was a rare chance to see the things I learn about theoretically applied in the classroom and get to talk about it with teachers. For example, one of the schools used setting for all their subjects (including geography, which is the slot we were teaching in), which is something I learned about as being highly detrimental to equality in education.
One of the things I found interesting is that because our workshop is very participation-based and encourages discussion, we got more engagement from the “lower” sets who were happy to share their ideas and take risks, whereas the “higher” sets seemed nervous to make mistakes and not used to discussions. I also spoke to the teachers about it who made thought-provoking points that hadn’t been considered in my lectures.
It’s been great to be there from the very first workshop, to some of the most recent ones, and watch how feedback we as volunteers have given, and what we’ve heard from students and teachers, is continually shaping the workshop itself.
I really appreciate the flexibility VFF has shown and how much they value the volunteers’ voices, and I think it’s really helped to improve the engagement with the workshops. VFF in general has been one of the best organisations I’ve volunteered for; there are monthly socials which have been a great way to get to know other people with similar interests, there is plenty of notice and preparation for each workshop, and everyone is so friendly.
To read more of Sara's writing, she has published two blogs with UCL university, where she is currently studying Psychology and Education. You can find those bogs here: