A Tough Climate for Teachers

By Liftig, Inez | Science Scope, March 2012 | Go to article overview

A Tough Climate for Teachers


Liftig, Inez, Science Scope


The teaching of climate change is presenting hurdles for many teachers, similar to those faced by biology teachers when they teach evolution.

Eighty-two percent of science teachers responding to a recent NSTA online survey said they had faced student skepticism about climate change, and over 50% those being surveyed had met similar skepticism from parents (Petrinjak 2011). The Huffington Post also recently reported on the difficulties teachers are encountering when they teach climate change (Peeples 2012). In addition, the National Center for Science Education--well known for defending and promoting the teaching of evolution--has acknowledged the controversy surrounding the teaching of climate change and added the teaching of the topic to the Center's mission (NCSE 2012).

The cautious approach of teaching climate change without strong attention to the role of human activities is not supported by A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (NRC 2011). The following statement from the introduction to Earth and Human Activity, Earth Science Core Idea 3 does not shy away from declaring that climate change is driven in part by human activities:

"Indeed, humans have become one of the most significant agents of change in the Earth's surface systems. In particular, it has been shown that climate change--which could have large consequences for all of Earth's surface systems, including the biosphere--is driven not only by natural effects but also by human activities. …

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