New nationwide standards are incorporating climate change into the public school science curricula, to which I say, fantastic, and it’s about damn time! I see wonderful potential in this change, primarily in that our kids will be equipped to address these problems when they grow up and become leaders.
Though these are just guidelines, not requirements, it looks like 40 states say they’re going to follow them. Jennifer Ludden of NPR.org writes:
Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education says the lessons will fill a big gap. “Only 1 in 5 [students] feel like they’ve got a good handle on climate change from what they’ve learned in school,” he says, adding that surveys show two-thirds of students say they’re not learning much at all about it. “So the state of climate change education in the U.S. is abysmal.”
I second that. Although it’s been 20 some years since I started my wonderful public school education, I don’t remember learning a thing about climate change. Not even in high school, and not even in college (unless you count listening to my roommate’s drunken ramblings about global warming).
But this topic always tends to stirs up controversy, much of it political.
Frankly, I don’t understand it, but some people still think the human impact on climate change is a huge government hoax and we shouldn’t worry about it. However, teachers will be allowed to present both sides of the issue if they so desire. But then the problem, of course, is that not only does this confuse children, but it may cause turbulence when parents’ beliefs conflict with what the teachers say.
Another problem, one that’s more viable in my opinion, is the upsetting nature of climate change itself. I’m a grown ass woman and the thought of dying baby polar bears sends me into hysterics. And then, the thought of my own sweet daughter learning about these horrible, difficult realities freaks me out. I already try to keep my daughter’s consumption of the news at a minimum. She’s only a toddler, but I just can’t imagine it being healthy for her to see images of car crashes and war and controversy all the time.
However, I have promised myself that I won’t try to filter out the entire world for my child. I think it’s best to approach it the same way we’re advised to talk about sex: ask questions, listen, and keep it age-appropriate.
If I let my daughter talk out how she feels about climate change and I truly listen to her concerns, we could make changes in our own lives to help the environment. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time she’s in grade school, her knowledge of climate change surpasses mine.