“Climate Change” at School (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)
Recently I have been aware of a debate about if Climate Change should be taught at school.
In my humble opinion, teaching science should be about pursuing the knowledge that enables minds to be independent, to recognize (by their properties, their behaviour and interconnections) the pieces at play and to understand the rules of the game (physics, thermodynamic and biological laws). From there, critical thinking and data acquisition skills, should give the freedom to not be told about who is the winner and the loser before the game has ended. Schools should enhance a better understanding about the pieces being part of the relation between social behaviour and natural laws.
If I tell you what a tree does you will understand the implications of reducing the number of trees and the costs derived from manufacturing technology to replace them. Maybe it should be a good thing to start by teaching what “change” and “climate” are. Just to build a good understanding of those terms it is a challenge good enough to begin with. How “change” is all around us?, how much are we part of those changes?, how sometimes we do induce them and other times just suffer their impact?. Why do changes occur?. What originates the climate in a planet? Why different planets have different climate?. Which are the connections between the climate of a planet and the composition and structures of the planet?. With the persistent influence of the Sun over our planet, and a repeated pattern of movement across space, what has made the climate in our planet change throughout time from CO2 dominated atmosphere to O2? What was the impact in the global climate of getting life to develop in the Oceans? and when it covered the surface of the continents? …
If you can get young minds to understand connections, you might also get them to start questioning, without any preconception told, what is the value behind understanding why there is a debate about “climate” and “change”. If you can explain at school level why fish can breathe under the water and where they get the oxygen they breathe, and if you can explain why there is no rain in the deserts, I believe, the other questions are achievable as well.
I guess that what it brings the debate into a higher level are the challenges of; singularizing players (identifying singular players from broad concepts) and forces, measuring the magnitudes of their roles and, identifying the hierarchies in their connections to a detail that would allow us to map, model, project and predict the bidirectional relationship between “changes” and “climate”.