Some academics are mad there are too many middle school and high school science teachers questioning the science behind global warming.
As it turns out, there are too many “politically conservative” teachers presenting skeptical arguments about global warming to kids — something that’s really angering researchers because they say there’s no real debate about warming.
“At least one in three teachers bring climate change denial into the classroom, claiming that many scientists believe climate change is not caused by humans,” Josh Rosenau, program and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, said in a statement on a new study he co-authored.
Rosenau and his colleagues surveyed 1,500 public school science teachers from 1,500 across the country and found 30 percent of teachers taught students modern global warming “is likely due to natural causes,” and another 12 percent didn’t emphasize the alleged human causes of recent warming.
Thirty-one percent of teachers who taught their students about global warming reported “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,” according to the study.
Apparently, it was largely conservatives driving lessons that question global warming science, according to researchers. The study noted “a question measuring political ideology was a more powerful predictor of teachers’ classroom approach than any measure of education or content knowledge.”
“Indeed, teachers’ assessment of the scientific consensus is intertwined with their personal conclusions about global warming and its causes,” the study noted, later adding that for “political or cultural conservatives, simply offering teachers more traditional science education may not lead to better classroom practice.”
This seems like a balanced approach to such a controversial topic — fairly present both sides of the debate and let kids weigh both arguments. But that’s not how climate science should be taught, according to Rosenau and his colleagues.
“Worse, half of the surveyed teachers have allowed students to discuss the supposed ‘controversy’ over climate change without guiding students to the scientifically supported conclusion,” Rosenau, adding that most teachers were unaware of the “consensus” on global warming.
Obviously, some these teachers are being pressured to present skeptical arguments by conservative teachers and parents of their students, according to researchers. Bertha Vazquez, a Miami teacher who talks about global warming in all her classes, told The New York Times she gets pressured all the time to tone it down.
“Every year, I get the email from a father who says, ‘This is garbage,’ and why am I teaching this?” Vazquez said. “If you’re not as confident in the subject area, you’re going to avoid it. It’s no fun to field those phone calls.”
Of the teachers who responded Rosenau’s survey, however, only a small fraction reported being pressured to teach about climate. According to the study, only “4.4% of teachers reported such pressure (6.1% reported pressure to teach it, mostly from fellow teachers).”
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