Classroom Climate Disruption. Literally.

Jeremy posts an interesting question from a teacher:

I am very concerned about a small group of AP Environmental Science students (3) who have taken an aggressive stand opposing my teaching of climate change. I already teach it from the perspective of “here’s the data, figure it out” but they think that I made the data up. I showed them where it came from (NASA and NOAA) and they think it is a conspiracy by the left wing to infiltrate and brainwash the American public.

Normally, I would let it go but these kids are being disruptive and belligerent to the point that I have had to refer them to the administration.

I feel like there are two things I need to do here:
1) diffuse the situation so that we can move forward
2) create a packet of peer reviewed literature that is understandable for hs students

Does anyone out there have any suggestions?

Science Teacher

There are some very interesting responses, as well as a ton of great links to resources. Worth a click or two.

6 thoughts on “Classroom Climate Disruption. Literally.

  1. John Larkin says:

    Perhaps the facts and the arguments, one way and the other, could be shared with the parents of the three students.

    Provide the students with an opportunity to present their case to the class together with the supporting arguments and evidence. Can they back up their views?

    A class debate and allow the students or a selection of peers to adjudicate.

    Challenging indeed. I have experienced similar reactions from 15 year olds in relation to our new Prime Minister’s recent apology to the indigenous population of Australia for mistreatment by previous governments and administrations.

    Cheers, John

  2. Betty says:

    It’s interesting how students can decide that a teacher is wrong and stick to that opinion regardless of the facts. I once had a few math students who decided that they were not challenged, so I went all out to make sure they were. Even the principal agreed that the work was more than appropriate. However, nothing I ever did that year pleased them. I think the debate idea suggested by John Larkin is a good one.

  3. Hi Bud and Jeremy,
    I’m going to start a discussion question on a ning that Liz McGonagle and I started (Kids Global Climate Change Institute – ). Why not join our community. We are working with scientist in Woods Hole whose research is often on the cutting edge of knowledge regarding Global Climate Change.


  4. Bud Hunt says:


    Thanks for the invitation – I’ll pass it along!

  5. Dr.Kishor Mahabal says:

    I think there are many alternatives available.
    1 Ask the students to interact with reporters, editors of any local daily who is aware about international scenario.
    2 Ask the students to visit UN websites to know more about the UN initiatives.
    3 Invite some social activists who are working in this field to interact with the students.
    4 Ask them not to disturb the class because they do not appreciate the view point.
    5 Tell them that even though you do not agree with them you listen to them patiently and so its their duty to listen you carefully.
    6 You can encourage discussion on the climatic changes in the world.
    7 Invite a scholar who has specialised in Geography to interact with the students.
    I can suggest many more ideas, but feel that these are sufficient for the time being. Kindly let me know whether these ideas are in any way proved useful.
    Dr.Kishor Mahabal
    Department of Political Science, RTM Nagpur University, Nagpur India.

  6. Tim says:

    Research as shown that, unfortunately, opinions rarely change as a result of logical argument. Their assumptions of legitimacy and illegitimacy of information that is one of the roots of the problem. I wish I knew of some exercise that could show younger students how Scientific Knowledge is formed and how the empirical process is different from other methods of knowing. This is unfortunately one of the problems with so much of the world today. We, as teachers, need to find some way to teach that the way to understand things is to make actual observations and then come to logical conclusions. And we need to teach that even though conclusions are always susceptible to new evidence or better explanations conclusions based on evidence are not the same as opinions.

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