Giving Compass' Take:
- A book by journalist Katie Worth is focused on increasing young people's knowledge about climate change.
- Some public schools are either not teaching proper climate education or not engaging with students interested in this subject matter. How can you support access to accurate climate information?
- Read about supporting educators who are teaching climate change.
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From school strikes and congressional sit-ins to demonstrations at this year’s United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, young people are leading the fight against climate change. Poll after poll shows that Gen Z and Millennials are by far the generations most alarmed about the climate crisis, and the most engaged in efforts to address it.
But a new book from the journalist Katie Worth makes it clear that many young people still aren’t getting accurate information about climate change in school. In Miseducation, Worth exposes systemic problems with the way U.S. public schools teach climate change. From kindergarten to high school, she reports, students are still being taught that the climate “has always changed” or reading textbooks that present global warming as a “debate.” That’s if climate change comes up in the classroom at all: According to a 2019 NPR/Ipsos poll, some 55 percent of teachers don’t cover climate or even talk to their students about it — mostly because they say it’s “not related to the subject(s)” they teach.
“There’s a real inequity in terms of what kids are learning about this problem that’s defining the century that they’re born into,” Worth told Grist. At best, she added, public schools are failing to engage students who want to learn about climate change. At worst, they’re sowing doubt into kids’ impressionable minds, undermining efforts to address the looming crisis.
Worth’s book is organized into sections that illustrate the problem’s many layers, beginning with teachers who are unable or unwilling to teach the science of climate change. Worth found climate deniers in many of the schools she visited, like a high school environmental sciences teacher in Arkansas who insisted that climate models were too complex to confirm whether humans were driving changes in Earth’s temperature. He told Worth that the conclusions of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were too “political,” and that the virtually universal scientific consensus on global warming was “not based on real science.”
Other instructors simply lack the knowledge to teach climate change effectively, Worth said, having received little to no climate change education themselves. According to a 2016 study from the National Center for Science Education, fewer than half of all teachers listened to at least one lecture on climate change during their schooling, and most have never pursued continuing education on the topic after college.
Read the full article about climate change education by Joseph Winters at Grist.