Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bringing Balance to Climate Science Education - a strategic plan

by David Wojick, Ph.D.


Please donate!

Introduction

The purpose of this project is to help bring some balance to the teaching of climate science, especially in grades K-12, but also in college. There are presently a lot of websites offering one-sided classroom materials teaching the dogma of dangerous human induced climate change. That this science is highly debatable is nowhere to be seen.

Our project will establish a website portal that collects and distributes materials to teach about the climate debate. Once established and given sufficient funding we will also produce new teaching materials. The long term goal is to build a collection that systematically addresses all of the important issues at the appropriate grade levels. Our target audience is not just teachers, but parents, friends of students and the students themselves.

Lack of balance

Both the Federal government and many green advocacy groups maintain websites that distribute climate teaching materials. These materials teach that dangerous human induced climate change is settled science, which is far from true.

For example, the CLEAN website is funded jointly by NOAA, NSF and DOE. CLEAN stands for Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network. In fact "climate literacy" is code for the false belief that humans are causing dangerous climate change. CLEAN says it has over 600 free, ready to use resources suitable for use in secondary and higher education classrooms. They also boast that they are the core of the Teaching Climate part of the Climate.gov website. This is Government bias targeting children.

One of the key principles of CLEAN's version of climate literacy is explained thus: "A great challenge of the 21st century will be to prepare communities to adapt to climate change while reducing human impacts on the climate system (known as mitigation)." CLEAN also says "Because the primary cause of recent global climate change is human, the solutions are also within the human domain."

All of CLEAN's teaching materials are biased and based on this false premise. The reality is that dangerous human influence on climate is completely unproven and the subject of intense scientific debate. That only the scary side is being presented as settled science is a severe lack of balance.


Creating balance in climate science education

The first step toward creating balance in climate education is to provide teaching materials that properly present the scientific debate as it actually is. This is best done with a simple website. We propose a phased approach to this effort. First an implementation phase then, if funding is available, a production phase.

Implementation phase

Initially there are six tasks to be done, to create a useful website, as follows.

1. Call for materials. We will put out a call for teaching materials. We know that some exist already and others may well be created as a result of our call. This will give us a starter set for the website. We will use the existing network of blogs, list servers, twitter feeds, etc., that question the doctrine of dangerous human induced climate change.

2. Collect materials. We will work with authors to make sure that the collected materials are suitable for classroom use, especially non-political.

3. Construction. The education community features simple websites, many of which are constructed by the teachers and their students. Ours too will be very simple, hence inexpensive. We propose to use a database driven, document management format, along the lines of scholarly journals. This means that the website does not have to be changed when new documents are added. There is a home page, some out-links and a search box that produces relevant document lists. There are virtually no maintenance costs.

4. Process collected materials for the website. We will develop content for the website that provides an introduction to the debate, as well as describing each of the available teaching materials. We will also have the customary link list, with links to the numerous websites where the science is debated.

5. Create model materials. We will create a few examples to guide new authors.

6. Promotion. There are numerous channels available for promoting the website at low cost. These range from blogs to the science teacher associations found in many states. It is quite possible that our website will become controversial, which will help to promote awareness of it. The initial call for materials may itself generate controversy.



Production phase

Here the goal is to recruit and guide volunteers who will produce highly targeted teaching materials. In particular, there is a need for simple, yet well designed, lesson plans that teach a specific scientific issue to a specific grade level.

These lesson plans need to be tailored to the state standards, which typically dictate what topics are taught in which grades. DOE's Office of Scientific and Technical Information has funded extensive research by us on this sort of tailoring. These results are available through our STEM Education Center, whose motto is "write it so they can read it."

There are numerous specific scientific issues that need to be taught at different grade levels. Each potential lesson needs to be simple and compact, designed to fit into the mandated curriculum. Moreover, each lesson must stand alone, because teaching time is limited.

Getting around the gatekeepers

We will also develop short, handout types of materials as a way to get around what we call the gatekeepers. Gatekeepers are doctrinaire people who make it hard to get balance into the classroom. It may be the principal, the teacher's supervisor or even the teacher.

Our handouts will be something that a parent or student can bring to class. It is normal for the brighter students to bring supplementary materials to class, especially when the topic is controversial. In the case of climate change, surveys have also shown that parents often become involved. As with the lesson plans, these handouts will be highly focused, nonpolitical, and tailored to a specific grade level. Since they will be online they can easily be emailed as well. Thus the gatekeepers cannot prevent their distribution.

Target audiences

There are three distinct target audiences -- teachers, parents and students. Teachers need lesson plans, which are relatively specialized documents. Students need materials written at their grade level. Parents need information that they can explain to their children or use to confront a gatekeeper. Of course teachers and non-parents can use this information as well. The website will be organized in such a way that each group can find what they need.


It is important to keep in mind that many K-12 science teachers do not have science degrees, nor do most parents. K-12 is not the place to go into the technical details of climate science. Simplicity is the key.



No comments:

Post a Comment