It’s apparent to the scientific community that a third of science teachers got climate change all wrong and are telling students global warming is something “naturally occurring”. This is in spite of numerous studies, documents, and well respected scientists explaining why that’s not true.
- The study was conducted on 1,500 public school science teachers from 50 states
- 70% of middle school teachers and 87% of high school science teachers approach the subject of climate change in their classroom
- 1 in 3 believe climate change is not man made, and further impart that belief
- This is in spite of the fact that 95% of scientists state we caused our planet’s climate problems
Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University conducted a study on 1,500 public school teachers across all 50 states in the country. They focused on educators teaching science to middle and high school students. More specifically, their gathered information about their approach upon the world’s most debated problem at the moment: climate change.
Opinions are known to vary, from some blaming global warming for everything that happens everywhere in the world, to others denying its very existence. The truth, however, is always somewhere in the middle. The cause of climate change itself has also sparked debate, with a good majority of scientists, 95% actually, explaining it’s human-made. Others, on the other hand, believe it’s “perfectly natural” and something that the planet is going through by itself.
Among that latter group, are a third of science teachers in the United States. In spite of the scientific community almost unanimously agreeing that it’s created by man, 1 in 3 teachers tell their students climate change is due to “natural causes”. That is indeed worrying news, as it seems that the stubbornness of acknowledging blame could potentially start early. In middle school, actually.
According to Josh Rosenau from the National Center for Science Education, a worrying number of science teachers are bringing “climate change denial” in the classroom. Even worse, 50% of them have actually allowed students to discuss the “climate change controversy” without leading them to the scientifically supported conclusion. That influence spreads from one student to another, and then to the adults that will one day be in charge with the fight for our planet’s health.
The researchers found that 70% of middle school science teachers and 87% of high school science teachers actually approach the topic in their classroom. And yet, most of them never even took a course on climate change in college. In fact, 3 out of 5 of science teachers were misinformed about the scientific consensus on the matter. But there’s a bit of good news to accompany that problem.
A vast majority of science teachers are eager to acquire more information on the subject. Even more, half of those who are climate change skeptics would be willing to take a course.
According to lead author of the study, Eric Plutzer, there are a lot of opportunities for teachers to impart scientifically accurate and proven information on the problem. And, there are a lot of ways for them to “do a better job”. Unfortunately, students are being offered on 1 to 2 hours of education on climate change per school year. That is a much shorter amount than the researchers hoped.
Furthermore, many science teachers are also influence by their own conservative views, or the political views of students, parents, and other members of the community. In fact, that might be the most important factor. It has become as debated as evolution and the infamous “science vs. faith” conflict.
However, climate change is a highly significant topic that should be well researched. Science teachers might not be the ones who create the skewed perception to begin with, but “they’re the key to ending this battle”.
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