There has been a stir recently in response to climate change and the inability of our policy-makers to come to a consensus on the position of the scientific community on the issue. In a particularly insightful yet highly sarcastic segment John Stewart explains the current events:
This issue strikes to the heart of why inquiry is such a critical component of all science curricula. These lawmakers exhibit a distinct lack of comprehension regarding the scientific process. To make a statement regarding literature one doesn’t read because one doesn’t believe it is fundamentally invalid! How can you not believe what you haven’t read? The more important issue is the discussion of belief regarding scientific data and evidence in the first place. A colleague asked me this morning what we can do about this problem, and the answer is simple in delivery and monumental in implementation: we educate. The only way to truly understand the scientific process is to engage in it.
The experiments a teacher uses can vary widely by school and district and state. The specific objectives and methods of reaching those objectives are all subject to professional opinion. Despite these differences there is no question we should be teaching the next generation to understand climate science. Even more important than the issue of climate, which, make no mistake, is a huge issue, is that we teach future citizens to understand science. Full stop. There will be new problems that we are not predicting, and we need an intellectually agile and capable populace that can understand each new issue and the science behind the choices we will make.
Congress may always be a source of dark comedy, and science will often be a prime example of that sad truth. The good news is we can make a difference as teachers and parents. There is no better argument for the use of inquiry in the classroom than these consequences of ignorance. So get experimenting, and do the science.