The following comment from JunkkMale originally appeared on the What the hell are we doing to out children? thread. Given the dramatic news it contains, it seems to deserve a thread of its own. Also, with the suggestion from an influential government advisor that global warming should now be removed from the national curriculum and schools should be allowed to decide for themselves how they want to deal with the subject, it would seem that JunkkMale’s concerns are still very much on the agenda. In fact that they were very much in advance of their time.

I want to make it quite clear that the discussion here is not to be about private education versus state education. The issues that made the old thread so successful, and that I hope will be given more attention here, do not concern where children are taught, but what and how they are taught, with particular attention to the extent to which political expediency and fashion should influence education, if at all.

Seems longer.

It was only back in October of last year that a simple question inspired a thread post of mine that was kindly picked up and elevated by the site owner to a thread of its own.

Beyond the exchanges here, much has happened in the area of kids’ education; sadly little I can honestly say that is too encouraging.

But there does seem to be a sense of good folk no longer being too busy, or easily dismissed into doing nothing. Certainly complemented by many with a lot to say!

However the struggle is real, frustrating and exhausting. Despite the awesome power and opportunities presented by the internet, more traditional mechanisms of policy and information seem still to thrive and dominate.

One thing in particular I have noticed (not least from personal experience) is the removal of accountability. And with that, from Minister to public media, the means of check and balance have been seriously eroded.

I still await answers to questions on education claims made by Philip Hammond and Alistair Darling, and have seen challenges to claims made in print and broadcast either ignored or, in two cases, share the same ‘considered’ reply that the input was noted but not felt enough to act upon. Plus, of course, still no word at all from the AQA or the publishers, despite repeated requests. And senior state educationalists on how, precisely, a child who knows their science can rationalise facts with dogma.

Words are cheap. Actions count more.

I have that small question to thank for one my family has now taken.

It alerted me to take a greater interest in my sons’ education, from the teaching methods to the impositions of curricula from ‘on high’, to woefully poor exam questions that not only are unanswerable but also point to a very skewed attitude on the whole topic of state education.

The secondary school my boys are at was and is a good one. I believe the staff do their best with what they have got. And I have been happy to try and work with them to help improve matters.

But some things are too important to risk. And time, to allow the grinding mechanisms of public sector self-assessment to become more constructively critical, much less change, is a window too small to let pass because of any social idealism.

In September my two sons start at an independent school; one where, from the head down, the dedication is to getting the kids a great education in the basics so that, when the time is right, they have the necessary building blocks to make their own decisions, as well and as objectively informed as we can make them.

It took a lot of soul-searching, and a major amount of family budget re-juggling, but I hope it will be worth it.

This thread need not expire at all, as the education of all our kids is too vital to let any compromise become the norm by simply getting tolerated, but I’d like to thank all here who have shared my journey thus far, and helped in getting me to come to the only course I think I could rationally make.

I’ve moved some comments here from the old thread to this one.

65 Responses to “Children, schools, and climate change: the next stage”

  1. Maybe this is the solution you’re all looking for?

  2. From the video: “If you look at creationism, you realise it’s the only possible answer to all the questions.” Substitute “carbon dioxide” for “creationism”, and this is indeed reminiscent of the AGW-believers’ mindset. As David Roberts, writing in Grist recently, puts it: “For the most part, those who strongly support climate action do not do so because they’ve been rationally persuaded; in fact, they tend to be quite ignorant of the scientific details.”

    Now the kid made an accurate statement (presumably referring to the approximate rise in average temperature of the earth’s surface over the last 100 years) when he said “it’s only gone up 0.6 degrees”. Would UK schoolkids, well-versed as they are in all things eco and sustainable, be equally familiar with of this un-scary fact? Being an optimist, I would hope so.

    And as for “science doesn’t prove anything” – also correct, in that you cannot “prove” a scientific hypothesis but can only fail to disprove it.

    These people may be Evangelical Christians; notwithstanding, and where climate change is concerned, they display some heartening glimmers of common sense. Pete – thanks for sharing.

  3. A bloke with a book to sell, pitching it on a media show that can best be described as ‘robust’ in its views counter to much (A)GW advocacy. Don’t even need to advise the pinches of salt required.

    I share merely because the premise of the title, ‘How to get expelled from school’ resonated.

    I doubt anyone has been or would be expelled for views that may cross counter narrative, but as we have already experienced, passing exams is a tricky path between accuracy and dogma for kids to navigate.

  4. The UK exam system is now under the spotlight.

    I note AQA is in there, too. Along with getting passes vs. getting kids educated.

    There’s a ‘do’ at the boys’ new school tonight. I will be interested in their views.

  5. Plus ca change…

    Beyond the typo, I dread to imagine what lies behind this question, between what is and what some wish it to be, as the word ‘targets’ looms…

    3. Which one of the following best dscribes collaborative working?

    Anyway, a Merry Christmas to all.

  6. Happy New Year, JunkkMale. The Forbes article referred to by Sami Grover describes the NCSE’s initiative, one goal of which is to “connect local activists with one another, and with scientists and other relevant experts.” I was curious and looked at the NCSE site itself, which makes for very interesting, if somewhat disturbing, reading. For example, here’s a page about “Defending climate change education”. The question is asked: “What can you do to defend climate change education when it is attacked in your local community?”

    Here is one piece of advice for would-be participants in climate “activism”, which is their term (my emphases):

    Become a packrat. Any piece of information about the policymakers or the local climate change deniers may prove to be useful, especially if there is any prospect of a legal challenge ensuing. Take notes at, or even record, relevant meetings and events; collect and file material that appears in print and on the web.

    And here is a section about “climate change denial” itself:

    Recognizing that no terminological choice is entirely unproblematic, NCSE – in common with a number of scholarly and journalistic observers of the social controversies surrounding climate change – opts to use the terms “climate changer deniers” and “climate change denial” (where “denial” encompasses unwarranted doubt as well as outright rejection). The terms are intended descriptively, not in any pejorative sense, and are used for the sake of brevity and consistency with a well-established usage in the scholarly and journalistic literature.

    Climate change denial is most conspicuous when it is explicit, as it is in controversies over climate education. The idea of implicit denial, however, is increasingly discussed among those who study the controversies over climate change. Implicit denial occurs when people who accept the scientific community’s consensus on the answers to the central questions of climate change on the intellectual level fail to come to terms with it or to translate their acceptance into action. Such people are in denial, so to speak, about climate change.

    Given that a sizeable majority of people appear to be either those indifferent to the idea of CAGW, or those who, even if they do believe it, fail to “translate their acceptance into action” in any way – that’s a vast number of “deniers” (just about everyone they’re likely to bump into in the street.)

    There is also a page about “making it relevant” in the classroom, because “climate change is affecting us in our everyday lives and is happening in our own communities.”

    Make it pervasive. The topic of climate change arises naturally in classes in earth sciences, atmospheric sciences, ocean sciences, and environmental sciences, but there are opportunities to discuss climate change in biology, chemistry, and physics classes as well. Moreover, climate change education needn’t stop at the science classroom door. There are opportunities to incorporate teaching about climate change in geography, social studies, and language arts courses, for example. And many teachers are working together to incorporate climate change education throughout the curriculum.

    The Forbes article also has this:

    The NCSE will also be welcoming a climate change expert as a board member – Peter Gleick, the president and co-founder of The Pacific Institute.

    Yikes! Peter Gleick, the author of a HuffPo article in 2010 entitled “Unavoidable Climate Change – Past the Point of No Return” and which starts with “It’s too late.”

    Poor kids.

  7. Poor kids.

    And here’s to a great 2012 to you, and all here, too, Alex.

    There are kids being poorly served in their education being taken beyond into areas of advocacy and activism, hence such instances need to be noted and, where inappropriate, highlighted and if necessary resisted.

    Which is why I value this blog and all who contribute so valuably, with sourced information, to it.

    With luck, this will lead to at least some lucky kids being all the richer with the gift of knowledge in the future; and hence a basis to arrive at their own views in good time with a firm grounding in the areas to help them get there.

  8. Can’t say it’s too encouraging on certain mindsets at play..

  9. The NCSE, if it is true to its ideals, is going to be tying itself in knots under the tutelage of Peter Gleick, and in due course will surely realise it has got the situation back-to-front with regard to which ‘side’ is the true defender of the scientific method. Before then, since it is a hardened campaigning group, it will do some damage to schooling and in due course to itself.

    I am beginning to wonder if we can somehow innoculate children against the CO2-Scare virus, using not just dry science, but also humour, and compassion for the cruelty being inflicted upon them by propagandists riding on the increasingly wobbly climate alarm bandwagon.

  10. A quick update – Peter Gleick has now resigned from NCSE:

    “Gleick obtained and disseminated these documents without the knowledge of anyone here,” NCSE’s executive director Eugenie C. Scott commented, “and we do not condone his doing so.” But, she added, “they show that NCSE was right to broaden its scope to include the teaching of climate science. There really are coordinated attempts to undermine the teaching of climate science, and NCSE is needed to help to thwart them.”

  11. I am all for information exchange.

    But the latest ‘affaire’, that of Heartland/Gleick, has rather thrown into the spotlight who is sharing what (or not), backed by whom (or what).

    So it was interesting, and indeed perhaps apposite, that as all the above was (and to an extent still is) playing out, that I got an email in my inbox, doubtless as a result of an addiction to ticking online boxes.

    It is pretty much summarised by the page linked to:

    I was less impressed with how it got introduced: Subject: Climate denial in our schools

    There was also the thrust of the argument, which seemed to be at best, strawman from the off, and deteriorated thereafter.

    That video seems quite high quality. If paid for from donations alone, fair enough.

    But I do wonder if those kids featured were involved are all ‘Climate Presenters’.

    The thrust of this seems as off as its unfortunate timing.

  12. I am sure most will be aware, but I was not, of this site.

    This post I have just been introduced to seem pertinent to add here:

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