"Don't teach climate change"

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Peregrin5, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    So since I'm not teaching anymore (though I am tutoring now) I only live vicariously through my teacher contacts. One of my former colleagues sent me an image of a survey she sends home to parents just asking for general comments and things to get to know families better. One of them apparently came back with mostly nothing except: "Don't teach climate change. It is a hoax." as a request/suggestion for teaching their student, etc.

    Climate change is now part of the standards across the country (the NGSS) though perhaps the current administration might de-federalize science standards, but until then it has to be taught. I have run into parents like this and kids who believed this because of their parents, but I pretty much just taught it anyway because it was a requirement, and nuts to anyone who didn't like it.

    Out of curiosity, how would you deal with this? Or would you deal with it or just ignore it?
     
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  3. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    That's a real difficult dilemma to be placed in, Peregrin, and it happens all over the country, in many different subject areas. I think it boils down to this: We should know what we are hired to teach before we sign on the dotted line, and if we are uncomfortable with it, then we shouldn't take the job, unless we have plans of changing the system.

    Climate Change is a reality, but, "WHY the climate is changing" is what we may disagree on. And it's not a science; it's a theory! So there's actually some leeway in there for a teacher to throw-in her perspective in a way that would cause student's to critically think about it.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    There are a couple of standards that parents are able to "opt out" from here, all in the Health curriculum. Before opting out, the parents must meet with administration and specify, in detail, what standards they do not want their children to be taught. They must also work with administration to determine where the student will be when that concept is being taught to the rest of the class. Generally, this involves the parent removing the student from the school during this time, as the school doesn't have the space or the personnel to supervise students who aren't in their classroom. When confronted with this process, many parents change their minds.
     
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  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Maven

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    I teach climate change the same way that I teach evolution. "Given the information that we currently possess, these are the best scientific thoughts on the subject. Given more research and study, our thoughts may or may not change. According to curriculum standards, I can only teach what we know now."
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    DAH: Unfortunately the "just a theory" statement is a common misconception in science. I don't fault you as it's a commonly misused phrase, but for more information on why that's incorrect you can read here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/just-a-theory-7-misused-science-words/

    MrsC: I don't know if they can opt out of these standards. I don't know though how they determine or who determines what is opt-outable or not.

    Vickilyn: That sounds like that statement is more geared to students than parents. What would you tell a parent who complains about something in the standards that you have to teach?
     
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    I had a parent once refuse to let her student read The Crucible because it was about "witchcraft" (even though it's not really "about" witchcraft at all). I had to provide an alternate text and assignments that met the same standards. Since climate change is a standard, not just one text or assignment, I don't see a way around it -- and I don't think a teacher should have to try a way around it. If those parents don't want their students taught the state/federal standards, they might be better off sending their child to a private school that better aligns with their beliefs -- although they might find that those schools teach the exact same standards. Hard to get around the facts when you're trying to teach science...
     
  8. DAH

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    You made my point, thank you.
    That article written by a left-leaning liberal Stanford U. professor stands firmly on one side of the issue, so, of course, he supports his position in part by saying those who disagree with him are confused, lack intelligence, deny the "facts," misuse the terms, etc., etc., etc. That's fine, no problem. I (we) don't buy it! There are no facts to support that Climate Change is a science! Just a lot of people claiming it is because they say so.
    (Sorry Admin, this is on topic).
     
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  9. bella84

    bella84 Fanatic

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    I teach kids young enough that this won't come up in my curriculum, so I won't have to deal with it. I do want to point out, though, that NGSS haven't been adopted across the country. They are not a federal requirement. My state, for instance, has created our own science standards. They've been heavily influenced by NGSS, but they aren't the same, and all state education departments would be within their rights to decide whether or not climate change is a standard taught in their own state (My state decided that it will be, btw).
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  10. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Since a lone teacher cannot change the standards he/she is required to address, I would just explain that to the parent and advise him or her to take it up with the school district.
     
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  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    One of the basics we teach, especially in middle school and beyond, is that students must be conscious of the validity of the sources being consulted when they do research. I think that there is now a plethora of reliable data to suggest that climate change is more than just a cyclical phenomenon. I doubt that students could depend on your interpretation of reality. (Sorry DAH, this is on topic.)
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    A teacher shouldn't 'throw in her perspective' but rather offer the various theories without bias.
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Let me correct some misapprehensions.

    First, the article that Peregrin cited isn't about climate change, though you've taken it that way. It's about academic language. Scientists are as entitled to use "theory", "hypothesis", and more

    Second, the author of the article is Tia Ghose, who isn't a professor of any kind, let alone a professor at Stanford, judging from her LinkedIn profile - though that profile evinces strong credentials in science writing (which is to say, translating science for those of us who aren't professionals in the field).

    Third, while Michael Fayer is indeed at Stanford University as a chemist, whether it follows that he himself is as left-leaning as you believe Stanford to be is something that can be confirmed only with research that I'm not seeing here. In any case, when he is quoted as saying "A word like 'theory' is a scientific technical term" he isn't making a value judgment for or against anyone any more than a teacher who explains that "onset" and "rime" are technical terms of reading. The article also quotes a physicist, Rhett Allain, who is at Southeastern Louisiana University - a university that I'd be surprised to find on anyone's list of "left-leaning liberal institutions".

    I'm acquainted with at least two Ph.D. holders - one physicist, one philosopher of science - who self-describe as conservatives and Christians. Neither of them would be likely to take exception to any statement in Tia Ghose's article. One of them teaches science for an online Christian school; you would do well to read her comments about evolution and how and why she teaches it. Pay particular attention to the "why", please, and do me the courtesy of reading the page for what it says, not for what you think it says, before you tell me how it's wrong.
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    bella84: You're right of course. I happen to have only taught in states that have accepted the NGSS, and sometimes forget that not all states accepted them.

    DAH: :roll:
     
  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    TG: Rhett Allain is also a great physics writer and works actively in science education. He's definitely someone I look up to. He has some great ideas about how to teach physics at the high school and college level that I was planning on implementing. I also think I agree with him. "Theory" and the other terms get misused so frequently. I understand why scientists use the word "theory". It's kind of an ego-check to remind them that nothing in science is safe from possible future evidence that might disprove the entirety of a concept or even field. Theories are explanations of observations that must be corroborated by wide numbers of experiments, future observations, and other scientific understanding, but it is not "fact", DAH is correct there.

    But that doesn't mean it's "not science" which is a statement I didn't really understand. All that it means is that scientists are not egotistical enough to think that they have the for-sure answer to anything. It's always possible that a scientific idea can change. But they do have vast amounts of evidence and models that are confirmed again and again with new evidence to continues to support and strengthen the theory over decades.

    But with how "theory" is being used to try to discredit science among those who don't know any better, it might be a good idea as Rhett suggests to use a different term.
     
  16. JimG

    JimG Rookie

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    Ignore it. It's a can of worms you don't want to open.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  17. vickilyn

    vickilyn Maven

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  18. anon55

    anon55 Comrade

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    Thomas Aquinas resolved this in the 13th century. He said scientific explanations are not anti-religious, because God created everything on earth, including Science. There is no need to have a conflict between science and faith. In fact, the official position of the Catholic Church is to accept evolution based on this framework.

    The denial of climate change as we find ourselves drowning in record floods and burning in record fires. This is the new normal thanks to the denialism of a select few and the huge funding of fake science and political bribes by fossil fuels companies. It is obscene and inexcusable for a science teacher to deny climate change. Considering it "only a theory" is a total logical fallacy based on a misunderstanding of the way "theory" is used in science. 97% of climate scientists accept climate change. What's the training of those who deny it or question it? They know better? Should we also reexamine flat earth and gravity?
     
  19. vickilyn

    vickilyn Maven

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    Here's hoping that we're not going down this road again! ;)
     
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