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Bates College

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

Iceland: Climate Change and The Arctic


The Icelandic curriculum structures itself amongst six pillars: “literacy, sustainability, health, and welfare, democracy, and human rights, equality and creativity” (Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, 2014). The United States national standards for their state public schools focus on two central points: math and English language learning (Participant 6, personal communication, 2022). The way these structures are upheld reflect values, goals, and systems of knowledge. Depending on where a child is raised, the skills learned in the classroom will result in a completely different attitude toward environment, place, and success. In the United States, success seems to be defined by grading and test scores. Icelandic schools are rated based on how much outdoor time and play the children receive, along with how these six pillars are instructed. There is little testing amongst the younger school districts. This paper will aim to contrast the different ideologies behind these two curriculums, and uncover the deficits inherent in the United States educational system. I reveal that contrasting definitions of knowledge establish how one interprets values and perceives our natural world, and how this perpetuates into younger generations. As climate change intensifies, it is necessary to reveal these paradigms and educate young students on the ethics of coexistence within their changing environment.


Early Childhood Education | Education Policy | Elementary Education | European Languages and Societies | International and Comparative Education


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