A recent survey suggests that climate change is not crystal clear to many science teachers. Researchers have found that there’s a lot of confusion around the topic with many teachers in middle schools and highs schools not getting the facts right including the idea that the phenomenon is triggered by human activities, rater than natural occurrences.
The survey involved 1,500 science teachers from all states. Some of them were science teachers, others chemistry, biology, Earth sciences, or physics teachers. Study authors were shocked to learn that about 30 percent of respondents said that they believe and teach their students that climate change is a naturally occurring phenomenon which has been going on for centuries.
Another 31 percent said that they provide their students with both versions of the theory i.e. that global warming is either man-made or has natural causes, despite the consensus among climate scientists that the phenomenon is caused by man.
Eric Plutzer, lead author of the study and researcher at The Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Political Science, noted that any ‘nonscientific perspectives’ delivered to students may make them think that truth about global warming depends on people’s values and deeply held convictions rather than real science.
Plutzer has conducted other similar surveys on the teaching of alternative theories to evolutionism in U.S. schools including intelligent design and creationism. He noted that in both cases some teachers present the mainstream theories as controversial, so they feel obliged to tell their students the beliefs of both sides rather than advancing climate change and evolutionism as two rigorously proven scientific topics.
Study authors also found that a relatively small number of teachers send a mixed message, while ‘a substantial number’ do not cover topics that seem controversial including global warming.
The survey also found that U.S. teachers do not get their fact straight on the scientific consensus around the origins of climate change. I middle schools, only 30 percent got the consensus right (81 percent to 100 percent), while in high schools, teachers fared a little better with 45 percent.
Furthermore, many teachers failed to follow official guidelines on how to teach climate change in class. Many of them said that they would discuss secondary topics with their students including pesticide use, ozone layer, and pollution caused by rocket launches.
Additionally, two percent of teachers were full-fledged deniers of climate change, while 30 percent had mixed feelings about it – they believed that it was either generated by natural causes or by both natural and human causes.
The study was published Feb 11 in the journal Science.
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