Teaching Climate Change: Pressures and Practice in the Middle School Science Classroom
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What are middle school science teachers teaching their students about climate change? And why? This qualitative study examined the experience of middle school science teachers from western Oregon, finding that while participating teachers accept the science of climate change and express concern about it, many teachers are reluctant to make the topic a priority in their classrooms. When they do include the subject, teachers frequently address “both sides.” They also report that students have persistent doubts and misconceptions about climate change. What accounts for these trends? I argue that the way teachers address climate change is a result of complex interactions between structural pressures, emotional pressures, and cultural pressures. I conclude that, in order to promote the inclusion of sound climate science instruction in public schools, advocates of climate change education need to address challenges at all these levels: structural, emotional, and cultural.