I was at a party the other week and found myself using the title topic as a conversation filler; admittedly, I was talking to an environmental scientist, but it was after midnight, which shows how “common” a subject it has become.
This is perhaps the reason why I was surprised to read “Climate change should be excluded from curriculum, says adviser” in the Guardian newspaper yesterday. This was discussed in the article by Tim Oates, who was responsible for reviewing the curriculum for 5 – 16 year olds earlier in the year, and Michael Gove, the education secretary. Where in the article, the situation of climate change sceptics being given the choice of whether or not to teach the topic was likened to creationist teachers not teaching evolution (or vice versa), it was much more bluntly discussed in the comments. The term “Flat-Earth Society” was mentioned multiple times.
The root of this article may be stemmed in policy yet again, about what kinds of science should appear on the curriculum, but it does seem that more policy-makers have been consulted in the process than scientists. One of the reasons mentioned for cutting down the curriculum is that it has become too cluttered since the last review, with attempts to add various elements, including public engagement, to give young pupils a rounded impression of science today. However, science, and the parts of it featured in current affairs everyday, changes continuously, it may be unreasonable to attempt to keep up with it. Thus, the proposed new curriculum aims to return to teaching a solid foundation of science, and accompanying mathematics, but the worry now lies with whether pupils will think of this as “old, boring science”.
One, main argument presented by the board for removing climate change, is that it will date, like other social scientific features. Personally, I do not think it will. Yes, I may be a climate change believer, but I do not blame anybody in particular. The weather (right now too, in fact) is behaving more erratically than ever, and we should do something about it. Truth be told, I am not certain what to make of these decisions on the curriculum: it is important to learn about fundamental science; it is also important to learn how that science works around us. What do you think? (Read: let me know in the comments.)