NCSE's McCaffrey in The Earth Scientist
What could be wrong with presenting in a science class "both sides" of controversial topics like evolution or climate change, or having students debate the topics, using argumentation to improve their critical thinking skills? In the case of evolution, presenting supposed alternatives, such as intelligent design or young-earth creationism, is not only considered bad practice, but also unconstitutional in public schools due to the separation of church and state. However, in the case of climate change, the practice of teaching it as controversial and presenting "both sides" as if they are equally valid, is a too common practice among science teachers. This paper examines the reasons why teachers may be encouraged or drawn to "teach the controversy" about climate change, why it is not an effective practice and leaves students more confused, and how the Next Generation Science Standards may help to transform how we teach about climate and global change science and solutions.The Earth Scientist is the journal of the National Earth Science Teachers Association. McCaffrey's article appears in the fall 2012 issue (vol. 28, no. 3), pp. 25-29.