I am staking my claim in the ground. Planting my flag. This is happening, and I am part of it.
Or it may fizzle into nothing. In which case, erase all memories of this ever being mentioned.
I, along with another teacher (J), have been promoting our students to re-engage with the climate. Pre-pandemic, those gloriously innocent days when we once thought 2016 sucked arse (on that: read this from NPR and try not lash out in anger.
Seriously, "lost track of reality". I want to yell at the 2016ers and say, just you wait until lockdowns and then talk to me about losing reality. Our reality was manhandled by a microscopic Harambe who dragged us from this side of reality to the other.)
Both J and I have been attempting to empower our students to believe they can make a difference in this world. In their world. The pandemic has knocked their spirit. They see the benefit and power of learning, of being in the classroom.
They don't want to re-instate the School Strikes for the simple reason they want to stay in school.
Their education is their future.
As a teacher, this is affirming. School is not just about learning in the academic sense, it is social learning. And two years of interrupted schooling, the students want normality.
So, together, we fashioned the new battleground. One where they remain in class but protest with passion.
Our students have decided to be out of uniform. And they aren't asking for unreasonable action on the climate. They don't want those in power to think beyond their current constituents.
So what do they want?
Are you sitting down?
They want the vote.
They want 16-year-olds to be able to vote. According to the 2021 Census, there were 1,457,812 Australians aged between 15 - 19. Roughly speaking, that means there are 583,124 Australians who are 16 and 17 years old.
We think an added half-a-million voices at the ballot box will make a sustainable difference to the discussion of how we, as a nation, tackle climate change.
It'll make a huge difference to every nation if they lowered the voting age.
It also means we will be able to meaningfully teach civics inside the classroom, ensuring the students understand their voice carries weight and responsibility.
Not all young people believe climate change is real. I have a young 13-year-old who swears it isn't. He confidently points outside, his mullet swinging as he does, and says, look, it's cold outside. That's proof against global warming, he says.
If only the scientists thought the world was that simple. If only the future of our planet was that simple.
We can't all wear mullets and think it looks good.