This post is about communicating with teachers and principals who are hesitant to teach climate science because it is "controversial and polarized".
I am interested in secondary school audiences and state-level legislation. See the Science article " Climate Change Sparks Battles in Classroom" for more:
The supporters of this legislation use "Teach the Controversy" frames and deny scientific consensus on global climate change to dissuade teachers and principles from teaching climate science (or environmental science in general). It is truly an example of manufactured controversy.
I work with science teachers who seem to shy from using debate in the science classroom (maybe residual from the evolution/creationism "controversy"). As a former debate coach and communication prof, this saddens me. I believe it could help students improve scientific evidence analysis skills, encourage communication ethics/civics, foster critical thinking, and almost "protect the teacher" by allowing the students to defend their own positions or "role-play".
I understand that we need to promote the consensus argument (and I am excited to refine my "debunking skills" in the workshop). Speaking broadly however, we need to re-frame the "climate debate", not eliminate "debate frames".
I have come to understand that there are lots of "good debates" in climate science. . . how research should inform policy decisions and solutions, whether sea level will rise a few feet and many feet over the coming century, to what extent human caused climate change is responsible for extreme weather events, how robust climate models are for projecting precipitation are varying spatial scales in future decades. Other "debates" include whether IPCC projections and models are too conservative since some observations, such as loss of Arctic sea ice, are occurring more quickly than models projected.
Towards the goal of teacher education, we need to address the complexity of climate science. But also. . .
How can we counter the "teach the controversy" frames, in relation to the "lack of consensus" frames?