With Climate Change Deniers In Charge, Science Education is Crucial
January 26, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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In a world of climate change deniers and anti-vaccine advocates, it should come as no surprise to learn that one in four Americans do not know that the Earth revolves around the sun. Unfortunately, we live in a society that undervalues science, and are part of a culture in which science is not synonymous with the truth. If we want to progress as a society, we must change our attitudes toward science and understand that advancements in science are the key to our future.
In a survey done by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian, it was found that most Americans do not have an interest in science because they believe that it is “too hard” and 20 percent of people said that it was “too boring.” This view on science education leads to an ignorant public, and a culture that doesn’t care about understanding science.
This lack of interest in science is also apparent in our nation’s schools, as most school systems around the country, including Howard County, do not require students to take four years of science and students are not required to take basic biology, chemistry, and physics. While there has been a greater push for students, especially girls, to pursue in STEM fields, there has not been changes to the way that science is taught. The U.S. still continues to trail behind the world in science literacy, as the U.S. ranks 27 based on a study of fifteen-year olds taking the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam.
If we want to advance as a society and catch up with the rest of the world, we must reevaluate our attitudes about science education. Science is fundamental to our understanding of the world, and a thorough science education leads to curious and engaged students. Science helps students to learn important skills, and allows them to think of the world in a way that encourages problem solving and critical thinking. Science education is also practical, as the more we know about how the world works and why certain phenomenons occur, the healthier and better lives we live. Science teaches us about the importance of exercise, why we should invest in clean energy, and how we can make our computers faster. Science affects every aspect of our daily lives, and if it wasn’t for the thousands of scientists and researchers making breakthroughs everyday, we wouldn’t be living the lives that we are now.
Not only does science impact our daily lives, but it is a key part of government policy. Science is supposed to be the basis for making decisions on issues such as climate change and healthcare, yet it is ignored and lawmakers often use their own beliefs as justification for decisions. In 2014, Senator Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma, a climate change denier, brought a snowball to the Senate floor to “prove” that global warming isn’t real because it was snowing outside. Senator Inhofe isn’t the only climate change denier in Congress, and this dangerous mentality has led to many attempts to block legislation that fights climate change. Our own government is ignorant to the latest advancements in science, and this is an even greater indicator of the undervaluing of science in our society.
If we want to advance as a society, we must all change our mindsets about science. Science must be emphasized in the classroom, whether it be by requiring students to take science for all four years or incorporating the sciences into other subjects, such as by discussing current science policy issues in social studies classes.
An increased appreciation for the sciences will not only result in a more well-informed community, but advancements in society. Science should not be exclusive to a certain community or type of people, but rather all citizens should take part in understanding scientific discoveries.