It is hard to think of a more pressing and widely relevant situation in our time than climate change. This environmental crisis is literally changing the landscape of our world and it will only continue to do so if we stay on the same path. No matter your stance, everyone should strive to be educated on the manner. This is an immediate threat to humanity and it is already changing the way we live. Changes in temperature, increased storms and natural disasters all cause damage to communities, food and water supplies and natural ecosystems.
In a recent poll conducted by NPR, it was discovered that 60 percent of adults in the U.S. believe that schools should teach students about global warming, including its causes and potential effects. 12 percent said that schools should teach climate change to students but not its potential effects while 10 percent said schools should teach nothing about the subject. 13 percent said they did not know what teachers should do.
It is an interesting debate: whether or not to include current or even recent events in school curricula. To me, it seems hypocritical that my high school civics and economics class taught content all the way through the Obama administration but at the same school, my biology class did not teach the current scientific or environmental crises that we were facing.
It is also important to note that climate change is not a myth, but a theory. It is not as if anyone is proposing that we teach about dragons or unicorns in science classes. Climate change has studies with empirical evidence that goes back decades.
How soon and how early should we start incorporating current events into today’s education? I would argue that we should immediately implement this sort of learning starting in middle school and onward. When a medical breakthrough occurs, students should be asking questions and discussing it. They should be thinking about the kind of world they will live in and help to push towards a better future.
Some might argue that controversial topics such as climate change should not be discussed in school and that parents can teach their child about these issues if they so wish. But in school, students have access to teachers with the knowledge and experience to help them understand these more thoroughly. In most states, teachers must have a bachelors, if not a masters, in their field. They are informed, qualified and invaluable intellectual authorities and resources for students.
School is not just a means to obtain knowledge. It is supposed to provide you with critical thinking skills that can be applied outside a classroom setting. If the goal of education is to create citizens who are capable of analyzing the world around them, then incorporating current events into the curricula is an important measure to take.
When I was in middle school, I had a science teacher who required every week that we read and write a one-page response to a current scientific article. At the time I hated this, of course, but now I can see the value in assignments like those. That teacher wanted us to engage with and educate ourselves on current scientific events and discoveries. She did not want us to simply come to class and memorize facts and definitions for tests, she wanted to create meaningful discussions that would stick with us throughout the rest of our lives. More importantly, she wanted us to engage with material outside of state requirements, to prove that the world has just as much to teach us as school does.
Issues such as climate change are a major concern in our society. It only makes sense that we should teach students about them. They may be children now but one day they will be active participants and contributors to society and need to know how to think about the challenges ahead of them critically.