by Judith Curry
How the controversy over climate change affects America’s classrooms is receiving increasing attention.
PBS: Climate teachers share their stories
From the PBS NewsHour:
This week, the PBS NewsHour will report on one teacher’s struggles to teach climate change in her Colorado classroom. This comes as the National Academies Press is preparing to roll out new national science standards for kindergarten through 12th grade. For the first time this year, new standards will include guidelines on teaching climate change.
With the help of American Public Media’s Public Insight Network, we asked teachers and educators around the country to tell us how they teach climate change and climate science in their classrooms. It’s not always easy. Some have been met with challenges from parents, students and fellow colleagues.
Here are some comments from two of the teachers:
I have actually had more concerns and challenges from colleagues than from students.I have had colleagues laugh at me and say, ‘Well, you don’t really believe that climate change exists, right?!’ or ‘Why are you wasting time teaching students about climate change when everybody knows that it doesn’t really exist?’
In the conservative society that I live in, (climate change) is much more likely to be thought of as a myth than scientific knowledge. Politics make it extremely hard to teach it here. I get a fight from many parents and students each year that I teach it in Earth science. It is part of the core curriculum, so I have to teach it.I also like to teach it. I think it is very important that students understand what is happening to their planet and that we are the cause of it.
Science 2.0 has a post Teaching Science in the Classroom. Excerpts:
The National Academies Press will roll out some new national science standards for K-12 educators and for the first time, those standards will include guidelines on teaching climate change.
Good luck with that. As No Child Left Behind showed, positive results and the welfare of kids will not matter in a political fight – any attempts to create an education standard and accountability are going to flop unless education unions buy into it and any attempts to create a science standard for climate education will flop unless teachers do. And a lot of them don’t.
In teaching hyper-politicized climate change, everyone has an opinion, mostly because it has been made into a cultural issue and not a science one. As Donna Antonucci, high school teacher in Savannah, told Saskia De Melker and Rebecca Jacobson of PBS, “The biggest challenge is to get the students to look at the data without injecting political bias”.
Well, it isn’t always easy to get scientists to look at data without political bias either. Anyone who scratched their head in 2007 at the unsubstantiated claim that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035 was called a Flat Earther and a Holocaust Denier. It was a good decade for vitriolic science bloggers to run into free range hysteria and no science journalists tripped up the IPCC either, they were happy to rehash media talking points and look stupid when it turned out to be wrong.
But teachers have a more persistent problem, one that remains after shrill science bloggers have gotten jobs and science journalists have gotten…jobs in other fields; how to discuss the actual science. Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour has a piece tonight on how the controversy affects teachers and classrooms. One part deals with a political think tank creating climate change material, another examines new state laws dictating how global warming can be taught and they have a profile of a Colorado science teacher who got a student/parent rebellion in her classroom over it.
The Common Room provides a skeptical perspective on the topic: Climate Science in Public Schools, with some egregious examples of what is being taught in some places. Here is a multiple choice question for you:
Which of These Is Not Causing Global Warming Today?
A. Sport utility vehicles;
B. Rice fields;
C. Increased solar output.
There is an entire blog devoted to teaching climate change, called Climate Lessons, with the following objective:
A blog sharing information about materials presented to children on climate, highlighting those intended to frighten or mislead, and those which seek to inform and inspire rather than to recruit, even the very young, for an ill-founded political campaign. A campaign which is both soul-destroying and inhumane.
JC comment: Looks like the the forthcoming K-12 standards from the National Academies will be source of much debate in (US) statewide educational agencies. I would be particularly interested to hear how this issue is being dealt with in other countries.