Thanks to everyone who has commented on Bill Scott’s post last Tuesday about a climate change curriculum.  Although all the comments can be found alongside the post on the website, we’ve pulled out a few highlights:

“The big missing piece, for me — the elephant not invited into the room — is the question of simulation modelling. This would normally be relegated to the maths ghetto of the curriculum by people who like nice rigid boundaries between traditional subjects, but the multi-disciplinarity problem is worse even than the author suggests; the topic properly belongs under operational research, an inherently multi-disciplinary area hardly taught in schools. Teaching simulation modelling in the climate change area would touch on questions of the philosophy of science, as well as the obvious ones of geography, meteorology, oceanography, physics, cybernetics/GST, and the complexity theory bit of maths. A good course on simulation modelling in this context should leave the students understanding that exact predictive modelling of complex systems is a fool’s errand, and also that criticisms (like Lomborg’s) of climate (or any other) models on grounds that they are “wrong” shows a fundamental failure to understand the nature and utility of modelling. There should be no need for “inculcating values” other than the usual teaching aim of giving kids a built-in crap detector.”  John D Salt

” I believe if schools effectively used the Sustainable Schools Framework of Curriculum, Campus and Community and made explicit connections to the Sustainable Development Goals with all of their complexity and contradictions then this would help our pupils and teachers to effectively engage (through planned activity) with this hugely complicated issue.  We also need to ensure that our young people are not scared witless, this is an emergency and we seriously need to make rapid change as a globall society but there is hope, and our young people in schools today may be those creating more solutions in the next 10 years.  Active Citizenship at its best.” Rich Hurst

“I think that one way to cut through this and make it less controversial is to frame the learning that is required around nature and the natural world.  We need schools to encourage their young people to recognise that humans are part of nature rather than separate to it, and use that lens to explore what we are doing to the natural world.  There are many opportunities across all subject areas for this learning to take place.  Just as a few examples: in English Nature can be used as an inspiration for creative writing, in History the consequences of industrialisation can be explored, in Maths data can be found in wildlife populations to be analysed.  Within this, climate change would naturally be considered, and students would be able to make up their own minds about what action should be taken.”  Henry Greenwood

“With the new Ofsted framework now highlighting curriculum breadth at KS2 and KS3, perhaps now is a good time for schools to revisit some of those arguments and look at climate change as a valid vehicle for creating a coherent, engaged, meaningful, purposeful and joined-up curriculum.  Finally, you mention DfE guidance. It would be great to have a link if this has been published anywhere, especially if they are offering advice on the question of what a ‘balanced’ approach might involve.  Recent rhetoric about XR and climate strikers from government has perhaps discouraged some schools from going near this issue, for fear of being seen to support “extremism” of some sort … and it would be good for them to know that they have tacit permission to genuinely engage with the issues.”  Ben Ballin

“I do worry that repeatedly demanding that specific topics be continually added to the national curriculum, (which in itself doesn’t require everyone to engage with it), does not fit well where there is a separation into conventional subject areas. There is a natural inclination to put it into one thing and then strip out related elements that do not fit under the smaller subject umbrella, thereby providing the inability to create a deeper, more integrated learning opportunity. Additionally, with little support for teachers to deliver anything but the bare bones of complex issues (and I use issues as opposed to subject purposely), it is also no surprise teachers are unable to rise to the demands of such a challenge with the lack of training they receive on many wide-reaching topics, let alone allow time for students to mull around the grey areas in between the black and white of agreed facts.”  Suzanne Welch

“I do feel until we have an integrated ‘real world’ education system these same old arguments about earth/human/non human based realationships (dare I say issues) will go on and on and never really tackled in a systems based, deeply thoughtful way in our schools..we have been here many times since we all got involved back in the late 1970s (or even earlier for some of us!).”  Jon Cree


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