A new study published in the journal Science by Eric Plutzer of Penn State University together with other researchers from Wright State University and the National Center for Science Education reveals that that high school and middle school science teachers are very misinformed about climate change, and therefore teach wrong ideas about climate change.
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The Washington Post reports that large numbers of classroom teachers teach incorrect notions about global warming, with some of them saying it is a natural phenomenon while others even tell their classes they don’t believe in the process and that there’s no such thing as climate change.
In a national survey of about 1,500 science teachers, researchers are surprised that 30% of teachers say climate change “is likely due to natural causes,” an idea that contradicts scientific analysis of the problem of global warming. And funny enough, about 31% of teachers say they teach that climate change is caused by a combination of man-made activities and natural causes – agreeing with both sides of the argument.
“We think any amount of legitimization of nonscientific perspectives sends a message to students that this may be a matter of opinion and values, and not one that can be adjudicated by evidence,” said Plutzer.
He added that teachers that teach that climate change is caused by both man-made activities and natural causes make the issue controversial, pointing out that “the percentage of teachers giving mixed messages is somewhat less, but we also have a substantial number of teachers who are not covering the topic at all.”
And to make matters worse, rather that teachers to teach the core essences of global warming, some of them show off their misinformation by talking about pesticides, ozone layer, or impacts of rocket launches amidst other off-topic things.
David Evans, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, noted that “It seems to me that the teachers are actually evaluating the data, and drawing their own conclusions, rather than relying on somebody else’s opinion. I think that’s a really strong signal.”
Plutzer noted that the way students are taught about climate change make them consider the matter as unsettled – a matter of opinion where everyone is free to think what he will, with scientific data left of the classroom teachings.