NCSE's Reid discusses climate change education with EdWeek

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

NCSE's Executive Director Ann Reid was front and center in Education Week's "Teens Know Climate Change is Real. They Want Schools To Teach More About It" (November 18, 2022).

The article began by reporting the results of a recent national EdWeek Research Center poll of 1055 teenagers between the age of 14 and 18: "The survey found that 79 percent of teenagers said climate change is real, and it is mainly caused by human activity." By comparison, in a 2022 Ipsos poll, only 57% of adults agreed.

But the high level of acceptance among teenagers is not necessarily matched by a high level of understanding. "You can see very, very clearly the misconceptions that students have about climate change," Reid observed, citing further results from the EdWeek Research Center poll that showed that teenagers often fail to understand the causes of global warming.

The poll also revealed that teachers are the main source of information about climate change for teenagers. "When I see all of these misconceptions, I see tremendous opportunity for teachers to really think about how to help students think like scientists," Reid added. Education Week accordingly provided a link to NCSE's lesson sets on climate change.

Importantly, "[s]ixty-five percent of the students responding to the EdWeek survey said they want to learn more about how climate change will affect the future of the Earth and society. About half said they want to learn what they can do personally to lessen the effects of climate change and to better understand the science behind it."

The poll also asked teens about their interest in individual action on climate change, but Reid urged caution: calculating individual carbon footprints in class might "suggest this is a matter of individual action" alone, obscuring the systemic nature of anthropogenic climate change. "[T]hese things help," she explained, "but we also need to be advocating for bigger changes."

Also of interest in the same issue of Education Week is a quiz allowing you to test your own knowledge of climate change (and see how you stack up against today's high school students).

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.

branch@ncse.ngo