It’s a sad thing to talk about, but it needs to be done: we need to teach our children about climate change, what causes it, and how to stop it. And now they will. New science education guidelines were adopted on Tuesday, April 9th that will teach American students about climate change. And though they are less extensive than they could be, these lessons are still vital.
The Next Generation Science Standards will be put in place at middle and high schools in up to 40 states, many of which do not have similar state guidelines outlining lessons on climate change. But now it will be a core component of science education.
Unfortunately, the guidelines are not mandatory. But just having them there is a step in the right direction—even if it is a baby step. This is the first time cohesive, across-the-board standards have been made available to districts, teachers and schools at a national level.
“In the current situation the state standards are all over the map. It’s a hodgepodge,” said Frank Niepold, co-chair of the US Global Change Research Program’s climate education group. “We are still in a situation where across the country basically in every state students can still graduate from high school and in some cases go through college without learning the basics.”
Matt Krehbeil was a consultant for the project. “The NGSS aim to prepare students to be better decision makers about scientific and technical issues and to apply science to their daily lives,” he said.
The standards were cut down from their original version by about 35%, cutting back on information like humanity’s role in the process. Part of that was due to the simple need to compress material into a manageable amount. Unfortunately, that means teaching about it in deeper detail will mean teachers will have to find more resources and material. And some worry that by watering down the information, the door will be opened for personal opinions on the topic—some of which deny the very existence of climate change.
Certainly, more work needs to be done before the guidelines are made mandatory and detailed enough. But it’s moving right along, and hopefully someday our children will be taught in school how not to get us into this mess all over again.