Teacher: Ding Qiuyue, Ma Cun School,
Shilou County, Shanxi Province

With the development of China’s economy,
conflicts among enormous population and limited resources, as well as
production expansion, environmental pollution and waste of resources have become
increasingly obvious. As the economy continues to grow and the population
continues to increase, the issue of shortage of water, energy and mineral
resources is getting more serious. The contradiction between ecological
environment destruction and protection is also becoming more fierce. In light
of the future of China’s economy and society, how long can those natural
resources and the ecological environment that people rely on last? I, as a Geography
teacher, often think of this issue.

In the context of this growing
environmental and resource problem, based on Zigen’s idea of “sustainable
development”, our school attaches great importance to the development of
students’ environmental education. The school regularly organizes environmental
protection activities based on academic situations and problems in the
surrounding environment. In November, 2018, with ample discussions and
preparations, and within the framework of environmental protection education, I
gathered 22 eighth-grade students and delved into village daily lives. I wanted
to stimulate the students’ initiatives, improve their organizational and
advocacy abilities, while also promote the study of “China’s natural
resources” in the Geography classes. We wanted to discover and solve
problems by conducting in-depth research of the farm families around the school
campus and publicizing the protection of natural resources. The aim of the
campaign was to “Protect natural resources, reduce environmental pollution, and
resist excessive consumption”. Starting with daily life, each individual should
reject behaviors that waste resources and pollute environment. When we cultivate
students as seeds of change, they will take roots and grow over time,
developing their potentials to propagate movements and become a positive energy
in the effort to conserve natural resources.


Students carried out interviews with local residents surrounding the campus regarding their waste disposal and water usage

The activity was
divided in to 4 stages:

  1. In-Class Discussion,
    Independent Plan Design

To make the
field survey and activities more organized and proceed more smoothly, I
instructed the students to discuss the plan in detail during the Geography and
self-study classes – from personnel allocation, route planning, interviewee
identification, interview questionnaire, to publicity content, etc. After
grouping, we chose the team leaders, vice team leaders, reporters and clerks.
Then, we decided on the team focus. The first team focused on grassland protection;
the second team on water conservation, and the third team on cherishing water
resources. The final step is for the students to draft a promotion plan. Although
the basic elements of the discussions were highlighted, the discussions took
four or five class periods. Objective factors such as our remote location,
economic backwardness, and information isolation resulted in subjective
viewpoints that contributed to the inefficient use of time and the lack of
breadth, depth, and objectivity in the prepared material.

  • Promoting the
    Plan in the Village

On 22nd
of November, based on the prepared plan (activity foci, goals, contents, scope,
methodology, slogans, records, interpretations, and reviews), the students
grouped into three teams and conducted interviews of mainly the elders, middle-aged
villagers, animal farmers and produce store owners. They interviewed about land
use, waste disposal and classification, water sanitation and usage. During the
interview, some students serving as translators for villagers who do not understand
Mandarin. The main problem stemmed from the aforementioned insufficient
preparation, causing lack of objective data and in-depth questions. For

Q: How do you manage used batteries?

A: Throw away.

Then, an unrelated
question followed. There was no feedback to share related knowledge about
batteries disposal to the respondents. This led to absence of constructive and
convincing feedback to a specific environmental issue.

  • Return Visit

Based on the previous
plan and the interviewing results, the students made slight revisions and
created a new plan. Since the interviewee’s awareness of resource conservation
was extremely poor, the students focused on universal education and gave constructive
advice to those who had not changed their awareness at all. Take multi-use of
water for example, the students provided further advice to the targeted group.
And for those who had made changes, the students encouraged them to actively
promote the idea of natural resources protection to others. One month later, on
25th of December, the students went back to the previous interviewing
area, and found really impressive results. Several households had no increased
garbage generation, nor water consumption. Though the changes were minor, it was
a great encouragement to the students. The students made significant progress
in their levels of thinking, communications, and collaboration abilities. At
the same time, the transmission of environmental values was effective to a
certain degree. There were some “stubborn” villagers who refused to cooperate.
They only allowed a short interview time and retorted to everything students said.
Calling those people a group of “nonsensical difficult people” is not an
overstatement. The students were a little sad, but were not discouraged by
those reactions.

  • Wrap-up

After the two
promotional visits, we held a wrap-up meeting on 28th of December,
2018. At the meeting, school Principal Hao Yanping
gave a speech and introduced Zigen and its years of assistance to the school. The
Principal was too busy to be familiar with the details of the promotional activities.
With some skepticism, he randomly selected two students to talk about the
purpose, details, significance, and impact of the activities. The students’ truthful
answers greatly impressed the Principal. The participating teachers also
complimented the students for their spirits and the results, and expressed
willingness to make this event better in the future. The students felt that
this event inspired them a lot. Prior to the event, this consciousness was on
their lips but gradually dissipated. After the event, not only did they promote
the idea to others, they themselves learned an in-depth lesson.

Reflection and

The design of the course followed the principle
of the new curriculum reformation by applying student-centered methodology, being
relevant to their daily life and letting the students gain related knowledge
and experience through field activities, while also expanding the scope of the curriculum.
From the perspective of the students, they actively participated in the
practice of knowledge, realizing the student-centered, teacher-led teaching
philosophy, and their interest for further exploration was stimulated! From the
perspective of the teachers, they enriched the teaching methods, accumulated
the experience of practical lessons, and extended the concept of (Education for
Sustainable Development) Zigen advocates into the classrooms, extracurricular
activities, and everyone’s heart.

the development of this activity, students’ awareness of “protecting the
environment; diligence in conservation starts with me” is further enhanced. Wherever
they go, whether on campus, off campus, or even at home, they will set
themselves as examples to others and will actively influence others. This event
has played a very important role in promoting the school’s classroom, academic,
and campus culture. I hope we can use this as a base to further strengthen,
refine, and improve the next event.

Translated by Chelsea Zhang, born
in Taipei. Worked in the field of retail store design and construction in
Shanghai after graduation. She is working in the digital marketing field in

Edited by Florence Pu, BA of Foreign Language and Literature from National Taiwan University, MS of Library Science from University of Rhode Island, currently retired from the University of California system.


山西省石楼县马村学校 教师 丁秋月
















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