NSTA Position Statement Confronts Challenges of Teaching Climate Change in Nation’s Science Classrooms
Published: Sep 13, 2018
New Statement Calls for Greater Support for Science Educators to Teach Evidence-based Science
ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- In the midst of increasing efforts to undermine science education and misinform the public about climate change, the National Science Teachers Association has issued a position statement calling for greater support for science educators in teaching evidence-based science, including climate science and climate change. The statement promotes the teaching of climate change as any other established field of science and calls on teachers to reject pressures to eliminate or de-emphasize climate-based science concepts in science instruction.
“Now more than ever, we need to give educators the support they need to stand up against pressures from special interests, parents, or their state leaders to teach ideas not based on scientific evidence,” said David Evans, NSTA Executive Director. “Teachers need ongoing professional learning opportunities to strengthen their content knowledge, enhance their teaching practices, and help build their confidence to address socially controversial topics in the classroom.”
The statement acknowledges the decades of research and overwhelming scientific consensus indicating with increasing certainty that Earth’s climate is changing, largely due to human impacts. It also establishes that any controversies regarding climate change and its causes that are based on social, economic, or political arguments—and not scientific evidence—should not be part of a science curriculum.
The statement provides specific recommendations for the various stakeholders—school and district administrators, policy makers, parents, and others—to help educators succeed in teaching quality science in the classroom. A few of the recommendations include providing full support to teachers in the event of community-based conflict, ensuring that instructional materials considered for adoption are based on both recognized practices and contemporary, scientifically accurate data; ensuring the use of evidence-based scientific information when addressing climate science and climate change in all parts of the school curriculum, such as social studies, mathematics, and reading; and supporting student learning of science at home.
“Across the political spectrum we are seeing a significant anti science atmosphere and we need to change it,” said Evans. “It’s imperative that we equip the next generation of citizens to demand and use evidence and scientific reasoning about the physical world to enable them to make important social and political decisions about how they live in the world.”
The imperative for teaching climate change science can be seen in state science education standards based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education (NRC 2011), which recommends foundational climate change science concepts be included as part of a high-quality K–12 science education. Many states have adopted the standards based on the Framework and are implementing them in classrooms around the country.
The statement was developed by a team of science educators, scientists, and other education experts, and adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors. According to Eric Pyle, a professor in the Department of Geology & Environmental Science at James Madison University and chair of the NSTA position statement panel, “teaching the science of climate and climate change in school lays a foundation for future citizens who will need to become resilient in the face of challenges posed by human impacts on environment in general and the climate in particular. It is our professional and moral obligation as educators to prepare them for these challenges.”
The position statement and other climate science resources can be found at http://www.nsta.org/climate/.
The Arlington, VA–based National Science Teachers Association is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence in science teaching and learning, preschool through college. NSTA’s membership includes approximately 50,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business representatives, and others involved in science education.
Kate Falk, 703-312-9211
Source: National Science Teachers Association