I thought it was a great shame when the exam boards in England decided to drop the environment from their A-level specifications. Their argument was that it was hard to make the topic fit with the DfE's aim of making topics firmly rooted in the target language culture. They must have thought Ofqual wouldn't wear it. Of note is that the topic still appears in AQA's GCSE specification, as part of the global issues theme.
Maybe it was a marginal decision, but I don't see why teachers couldn't relate environmental issues to individual countries. Just think of France and the areas where the topic could have been worked in: the use of pesticides in farming, organic food, nuclear energy policy, banning glyphosate weed killers (Roundup), renewable energy, air and water pollution, biodiversity, the growth of solar, electric vehicle production.
At one meeting I led for AQA a dismayed teacher made the point very strongly that the number one issue facing the planet, man-made global warming, could have found its way into specifications. I agree. The "get-out clause" is that students can, in the specification, choose an environmental topic as their individual research project, and perhaps some teachers might encourage A-level students in that direction. It begs the question, for me a least: if you can do an environmental topic for an IRP, why not build it into the syllabus?
Perhaps, ultimately, the exam boards reflect society's general ostrich-like ambivalence about the topic, as well as the view from some teachers that the environment is just "boring".
If I were still teaching I would still happily do some work on global warming, even if it did not relate specifically to France. It's too important not to talk about. As I have blogged previously, teachers should not be too enslaved to the syllabus - get students to communicate about all kinds of issues which are important and/or of interest to them.
Well, it's still on the specification for one more year at A2 and here is a list of the resources I have on frenchteacher.net in August 2016:
- 2015, the hottest year in history (new resource, August 2016)
- Paris climate change agreement 2015
- State of the French environment in 2015
- 5 things we learn from the 2013 IPCC report
- Acidification of the oceans
- Climate change - French-Eng summary
- Climate change - Eng - French summary
- Climate change - effects of a +4 degrees temperature rise by 2060
- CO2 exceeds 400 ppm in May 2013
- Rain forests and global warming
- Deforestation and reforestation
- Carbon gas levels
- Men and women - carbon footprint
- Pollution from air travel
- Deaths from air pollution
- Solar energy
- Starter activity on energy
- Nuclear energy
- Nuclear energy - for and against
- Wind turbines - for or against