ing Swindle1 or Unstoppable Solar Cycles.2 Eighty-five percent of Colorado teachers in the study by Wise (2010), for example, reported that they support teaching both sides of the issue. Twenty-five percent of those who present both sides do so as an accommodation of students with different views, or as an opportunity to explore a controversy, but 50 percent left their reasoning unclear; 25 percent believe both sides are valid. Some of that 25 percent were confused or disturbed by “climate gate” (the public release of stolen e-mail correspondence among climate researchers that some viewed as casting doubt on certain data),3 and others were actively committed to a “denialist” view, Buhr explained.
Teachers also reported on factors that obstruct their teaching about climate change, Buhr noted, the top three being (1) a real or perceived lack of alignment between climate change content and standards they are asked to follow, (2) their own lack of content knowledge, and (3) the beliefs of parents and students (Lynds, 2009; Wise, 2010; Hirabyashi, 2011). Teachers also noted interference by local school board members, as well as students and parents whose beliefs resulted in resistance to teaching about climate change or climate science. Teachers report using a range of strategies in response, including treating controversy as a teachable moment; working to integrate instruction about the climate throughout the curriculum; using inquiry-based pedagogy; inviting outside speakers, such as climate scientists, to expand the instruction; and integrating the search for solutions to specific climate problems into the curriculum. Buhr noted that the first four strategies are similar to those used by teachers who address controversies over evolution in the classroom.
Many teachers agree that climate change concepts should be taught not only in earth and environmental science classes but also in biology and social studies (Hirabyashi, 2011). However, in practice, teachers with biology degrees tend to state they are not well prepared to teach about the topic, Buhr noted. She pointed out that far more students take a biology class in high school than a geology or earth sciences class, stressing that biology classes are a key opportunity to reach more students. Teachers also devote relatively little time to climate change—in a survey of 213 educators from middle school through the undergraduate level, the majority of middle and high school teachers reported spending less
1Originally aired in the United Kingdom on Channel 4, March 8, 2007, the documentary film was directed by Martin Durkin.
2Further information available at http://heartland.org/policy-documents/unstoppable-solar-cycles-rethinking-global-warming [June 2012].
3Several investigations, including those conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s inspector general at the request of Senator James Inhofe, Pennsylvania State University, the InterAcademy Council, the National Research Council, and the British House of Commons, cleared the accused scientists of any wrongdoing.