Our Youth Are Not Being Taught About Climate Change
|December 17, 2021
“What are you studying at Columbia?” my friend asks as she helps me pack for my move from North Dakota to New York City. “Climate and Society,” I promptly respond.
“What does that mean? What even is climate change and why is it political?” My friend, who is a sixth-grade middle school teacher in Bismarck, waits for my answer. She was born and raised in North Dakota. She has completed four years at North Dakota State University. But she didn’t really understand the concept of climate change or why I would devote a year to studying it. She only associates climate change as a point for contention in contemporary politics.
This was shocking to me, as she is responsible for educating the youth of an increasingly hostile planet.
As Pope Francis asserted, “Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity.” He also posited, “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.”
A prominent moral leader made it clear: climate change is a real problem and urgent action is needed.
And yet, my friend’s ignorance of the situation we are facing and that her students are subject to is echoed throughout the country, evident in the limited climate change education taught by the more than 400,000All over the United States, science teachers at middle- and high schools are required to be certified.
The journal was published in 2016. SciencePublished the first peer-reviewed national survey on science teachers that examined how the debate over anthropogenic global warming affects curricula. It was found that middle- and high school teachers only spend an hour or so on climate change education over the course of an academic year. Thirty percent of teachers were able to devote less than an entire hour.
Even more concerning is the fact that most teachers don’t fully understand climate science in order to properly teach it. Yale Program on Climate Change Reports indicate that 70% of middle school students and 55% of high school students are in middle school.Science teachers don’t believe there is a scientific consensus on climate change. According to the National Center for Science Education40% of teachers who incorporate climate change into their science curriculum are incorrectly teaching it.
It is evident that the current curriculum for climate change education is failing our youth.
Considering America’s youth are most at risk of suffering from the mounting repercussions of climate change, they deserve to learn the science free from the politicking that has halted climate action for decades.
National climate education can lead to collaboration between political parties and a resurgence trust in science. Recent studies by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication revealYounger generations of Republicans are more likely to support climate activists and are more willing to join a campaign for elected officials to reduce global temperature.
Climate science must be made mandatory in all schools as a standard and tested curriculum. This should include clear guidelines for teachers and resources to help them teach it effectively. Teachers must be provided with ongoing education in climate change through conferences and workshops.
Some initiatives are already in place in certain areas. The Next Generation Science Standards — developed by state governments in conjunction with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science — incorporate climate science into the K-12 curriculum and has been adopted by 20 states within the US. The Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment & Teaching Excellence at UC San Diego has developed a pilot program, Climate Champions, a collaborative effort between community and campus partners to develop lesson plans and in-class activities. The curriculum is based in evidence-based climate science, Indigenous knowledge, and empowers students to act.
These efforts are promising, but they are clearly inadequate for the task at hand. These efforts need to be accelerated on the national level. It is a great example. Each grade has been required to teach at least 33 hours about climate change and sustainability since September 2020. This initiative is led by the Italian Education Ministry. Lorenzo Fioramonti.
The ministry made sure that no stone was left unturned. Teachers were trained to teach the curriculum reviewed by Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development, and Kate Raworth of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.
In 2021, Yale Program on Climate Change CommunicationIt was reported that 78 per cent of registered voters support schools that educate children about the effects, causes, and solutions to global climate change. The public is overwhelmingly supportive of climate education. It is now that the government must take action. Students and TeachersSimilar It is necessary to beClimate science is best understood.
Instead of determining the future state of the planet for our youth, let’s educate them with the accurate information they need to understand climate change and, when it’s their turn, to take the steps required to ensure a livable future for all.
Annika Larson is a student at the MA in Climate and Society ProgramColumbia Climate School