Friday, February 12, 2016

How teachers are getting it wrong on climate change

There is, sadly, nothing surprising in the results of “a major new survey of U.S. middle school and high school science teachers” regarding the teaching of climate change.

While it is being taught, most teachers don’t understand that there is an overwhelming (greater than 95%) consensus that it is due to human activities, many are teaching it as if it is or might be “a natural process,” and some “science” teachers are teaching the line of the oil companies.

One of the most striking findings: 30 percent of teachers said in the survey that they tell students that the current warming “is likely due to natural causes” — contradicting major scientific assessments of the matter. Thirty-one percent of teachers also said that they include both the scientific consensus position — that global warming is human-caused — but then also a “natural causes” position that contradicts it, thus presenting “both sides,” in the study’s words.

…  The study also found that most teachers are unaware of the strength of the scientific consensus about the human causes of climate change. The survey asked them “what proportion of climate scientists think that global warming is caused mostly by human activities?” For middle school teachers, 30 percent chose the option “81 to 100%,” which the researchers identified as the correct answer. High school teachers were only a little better, at 45 percent.

In addition, many teachers seemed misinformed about the subject matter. When asked what they would include in their courses on climate change, almost half selected off-topic items like “pesticides, ozone layer, or impacts of rocket launches.”

A key problem, (lead author Eric) Plutzer emphasizes, is how many teachers are presenting climate change as something to be debated in class.

“I think the message that students take away is that this is unsettled, that this is a matter of opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinion, and the details of evidence are not being presented in a way that is consistent with the scientific record,” he says.

If we paid teachers to teach well, this problem would likely go away. The problem is that we pay teachers to just stick around, even if they never go in a classroom

1 comment:

opit said...

Teachers act as if it is to be debated.
Terrible. Snort. The facts you speak of are allegations of science...not data.
The class discussions have results you obviously do not subscribe to. Yet I find more conformity with scientific method in than in the Church of Climate Change ( argument by the Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Authority )