We share evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.
Let us not confuse the Al Gore panic doctrine with facts about how climate changes. And let us not fill our children with mis-information about "man-made" climate change. This is another foolish notion that will fade, in time, like the other Chicken Little end-of-world fables before this.
Yes, climate change can be scary. And that is probably what opponents of this bill will say about teaching it. But for once could we think about the children? Just as we only talk about sex with children in age appropriate ways, we can talk about climate change as a natural phenomena (which it is, to them) that happens very slowly (as it does, in "child-time") that we can affect if we choose to (which we can.) We need to insure that our children are prepared to deal with this horrendous problem, which we as adults have so far chosen to ignore. They need to grow up with a perspective that will let them adapt to this changing environment and include into their basic worldview the goal of preserving their world. 60 years of experience has taught me that "ignorance" is never "bliss" -- that particular un-true-ism is simply the overstated rationalization of a criminal hiding his/her crime.
I find it ridiculous that people don't talk in front of their children, with their children or suggest their child provide their thoughts and input on such topics. People can only deal with the realities of the world if they are informed, openly communicative about the topic which in turn will hopefully lead to recognition of the problem and subsequently corrective action is developed and implemented. I have never been one to avoid the harsh realities of life ... we don't live in a Walt Disney world.
As a Kindergarten Teacher myself, I find it very important to teach students about consequences of their actions. It is NEVER to early to teach responsibility, and the concept of climate change is a great way to start. You obviously wouldn't speak to K students about horrific natural disasters, or terrible food shortages.You could instead discuss the concept of conservation of electricity and water to preserve habitats. As with all content, instruction should be age appropriate yet informative. Climate change is a great way to begin a students journey down the road to responsibility, and there is nothing wrong with teaching the subject in K or Earlier.
Teaching about climate change does not have to be a scary topic. A good curriculum steeped in sustainability and sustainable development is a more positive approach to teaching climate change. I have had extraordinary success teaching climate change/sustainability using the materials developed by Facing the Future @ facingthefuture.org. Kids need to be aware of how our environment is changing and what they can do to adapt to the change.
The question is not so much when to teach kids about "climate change," but what to teach them about it. It is important not to attempt to indoctrinate them with the global warming line, but to explain that climates change over time. Since the scientific community is divided over whether humans are influencing climate change, it is important to explain this disagreement starting at the junior high/middle school level.
Climate change is not a "topic" that you just teach, "Now class let's learn about 'climate change'" so I would have to answer "no" simply because is really carbon cycles, greenhouse effects, maybe sunspots, methane and cows, and they need to know the difference between climate and weather, something most people don't, and something fairly sophisticated about science, and normal and abnormal variability complex systems. Without this, it's just a scary factoid--something educators do too often, I might add, like teaching children to protect the rainforest. It is, maybe, a great subject to take apart to explore developmentally in terms of the above. ES can lean about weather and sunlight as the energy source. MS can handle the science and also learn about variation. HS can learn about politic and policy and between balancing the choices or energy sources.