Three out of five teachers in the US misinform their students about the scientific facts about climate change. The finding was revealed after the National Centre for Science Education (NCSE) together with Penn State University Survey Research Centre conducted a survey to 1,500 middle and high school science teachers.
“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” says Josh Rosenau, NCSE’S programs and policy director. “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.”
The study, published in the journal Science, also revealed that only 30 percent of middle school teachers and 45 percent of high school science teachers are aware of the scientific facts about climate change.
Apparently, there are teachers who aim to teach climate change accurately and honestly. However, Minda Berbeco laments the lack of source materials about climate education. Apart from that, the teachers cannot afford to lose time to search and evaluate these materials.
Lead author Eric Plutzer, a political scientist at Pennsylvania State University, notes that districts who do not test students about global warming give low priority on the subject. Hence, the teachers only concentrate teaching about topics that are going to come out of the test.
Nevertheless, majority of the surveyed are willing to learn more about climate change and teach correct information to their students. Berbeco adds that even those teachers who deny the facts regarding climate change are open for professional development.
Rosenau concludes that teachers did not create the opposing views about climate change but they play a crucial role to ending the war around it. The researchers plan to study further how each states and school districts teach climate science.