Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A study published in Science reveals that a number of teachers are rebelling against Federal education directives – that a significant number of school teachers are failing to indoctrinate their students with the politically approved position on climate change, or worse, are teaching students that there are forcings other than CO2, which might be driving changes in global temperature.
According to the Washington Post;
A major new survey of U.S. middle school and high school science teachers has found that across the country, a majority are teaching about climate change in their classrooms — but a significant percentage are also including incorrect ideas, such as the notion that today’s warming of the globe is a “natural” process.
The study, published in Science Thursday by Eric Plutzer of Penn State University and a number of collaborators from Wright State University and the National Center for Science Education — which supports the teaching of evolution and climate change in schools — consisted of a mail survey of 1,500 teachers nationwide. They included both middle school science teachers and also high school biology, chemistry, physics and Earth sciences teachers, since it wasn’t entirely clear which classes might cover the subject (unlike evolution, which clearly belongs in biology class, climate change stretches across many disciplines).
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 abstract of the study;
Climate confusion among U.S. teachers
Although more than 95% of active climate scientists attribute recent global warming to human causes (1, 2) and most of the general public accepts that climate change is occurring, only about half of U.S. adults believe that human activity is the predominant cause (3), which is the lowest among 20 nations polled in 2014 (4). We examine how this societal debate affects science classrooms and find that, whereas most U.S. science teachers include climate science in their courses, their insufficient grasp of the science may hinder effective teaching. Mirroring some actors in the societal debate over climate change, many teachers repeat scientifically unsupported claims in class. Greater attention to teachers’ knowledge, but also values, is critical.
From the study itself;
… Although most students will hear something about climate change in a science class, the median teacher devotes only 1 to 2 hours to the topic (table S7), inconsistent with guidance from leading science and education bodies [e.g., (9)]. Of course, quality of instruction is more important than quantity, so we turn to how students are introduced to climate change science.
MIXING MESSAGES. Notably, 30% of teachers emphasize that recent global warming “is likely due to natural causes,” and 12% do not emphasize human causes (half of whom do not emphasize any explanation and thereby avoid the topic altogether). Of teachers who teach climate change, 31% report sending explicitly contradictory messages, emphasizing both the scientific consensus that recent global warming is due to human activity and that many scientists believe recent increases in temperature are due to natural causes (see the first chart). Why might this be the case? Some teachers may wish to teach “both sides” to accommodate values and perspectives that students bring to the classroom (6, 10). Beyond that, the survey data allow us to evaluate three explanations.
Our data suggest that, especially for political or cultural conservatives, simply offering teachers more traditional science education may not lead to better classroom practice. Education efforts will need to draw on science communication research and acknowledge resistance to accepting the science and addressing its root causes (17, 18). College and university instructors will need help reaching teachers and teachers-in-training who bring diverse political and value commitments to the classroom—particularly in avoiding “boomerang effects,” in which attempts to promote a particular view can instead harden opposition. …
Read more (paywalled): http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6274/664.full
Where will this end? Everyone knows that scientific knowledge advances when everyone agrees the same settled position, that questioning established viewpoints, or dissent from politically approved ideas, is anti-scientific, and should be punished somehow.