Opinion: Climate change strike should be celebrated, not ridiculed

Opinion 14/03/2019

By Aziz Al'Sa'afin, producer/reporter for The AM Show.

OPINION: I want you to think back to your school days. 

I want you to think back to the days you had off school. 

I want you to think of the reasons why you took those days off school.

Maybe it was because of visiting family. Perhaps it was because of a mildly sore stomach. Was it a field trip to Kelly Tarltons? Or could it have just been that you just didn't really want to go that day? 

There are so many reasons children don't go to school, some valid, some not so.

Tomorrow, thousands of Kiwi kids across the country won't go to school. They'll take to the streets to protest one cause -climate change.

The global School Strike 4 Climate involves students in more than 90 countries in an effort to create action. 

Now if that's not a valid reason to take a day off school, then what is? 

The world is fighting one of its biggest wars right now, except this time, we are our own weapons of mass destruction.

Never has there been a common enemy such as climate change.

There's been controversey surrounding the protest, with some saying the students shouldn't take the day off school. 

That the day could be better spent doing something else. That they should do it on the weekend instead. 

Some have even gone as far as to class it as "wagging", and that these children are simply "tagging along" on a fad.

Climate change is not a fad. 

It's happening, it's here, and we can't deny what's going on. 

We've had our heads in the sand, the very dry sand, for far too long, and it's now time to step up before it's too late. We can't be ignorant, not anymore. 

This protest is one very example of stepping up.

There's a perception that children don't like school, but that's wrong. These children are making a stand. They're actively learning about democracy.

They're actively learning about the freedom of speech. They're actively learning to speak up about the things that matter. They're concerned about the direction the world is going and holding people to account. 

What's negative about that? 

What right do we have to hold them back when we ourselves do that very thing?

How can we argue in favour of alternative education if we don't support this?

We know not everyone learns in a classroom. We are not all part of a mould who learn from a text book. We know, for a fact, we all learn differently. Isn't this just another form of alternative learning? 

Isn't it fair to say these children will actually learn a lot more about climate change, and democracy, by actively taking part in it? 

Did you go out and study the land as a part of your geography course? Did you not scale cliff sides and attempt the high ropes as a part of outdoor education? Did you not go on school camp to learn how to look after yourself?

This strike should be celebrated, not ridiculed. 

So again, I want you to think back to your school days. I want you to think back to the days you had off school. 

I want you to think of the reasons why you took those days off school.

Visiting family? Sore stomach? Kelly Tarltons? Didn't feel like it? 

Or did you protest climate change? 

If one day off school makes a positive difference in our world and forces action on climate change, then so be it. 

It's brave, it's intelligent, and it's valid. 

Aziz is The AM Show producer/reporter.