U.S. Schools Aren’t Teaching About Climate Change and Students Are Angry

By: Lauren | Last updated: Oct 26, 2023

When discussing climate change, one of the most important factors is protecting the planet for future generations. 

So it’s no surprise that children want to learn about what will happen to their world as they grow up, but it seems no one will teach them. 

Climate Change Effects Are Not Far Off

According to scientists, it’s not only far-off descendants who will be dealing with the consequences of our actions; they say that children alive today will absolutely struggle if something doesn’t change.

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However, reports state that most schools throughout the United States are not teaching about climate change, and if they are, they are only glossing over the topic. 

Why Aren’t Schools Teaching Climate Change?

Apparently, there are essentially two reasons why schools are not teaching the details of current and future climate change: Lack of resources and political debate. 

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Teachers don’t have the textbooks, education, or resources needed to provide a comprehensive understanding of what’s going on, and because of the ongoing political debate, parents and lawmakers cannot agree on exactly what should be taught. 

The Lack of Resources Is a Huge Problem

The lack of resources for educators is undoubtedly influencing the lack of attention to climate change in schools. 

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Textbooks for students of all ages are updated almost every year, but very few have added sufficient information about climate change. According to research by North Carolina State, today’s biology textbooks only have about 45 sentences about the important topic. 

Teachers Lack the Necessary Education to Explain Climate Change Properly

It’s also important to note that most of the country’s teachers are not often expert scientists or researchers, and don’t have the personal knowledge or experience regarding the complicated realities of climate change. 

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Therefore, it can be extremely difficult for an underpaid teacher attempting to offer a well-rounded education to be able to explain the topic in detail to children and teens. 

Even Adults Struggle With the Science Behind Climate Change

Climate change is a complicated topic, and it can be challenging for adults to understand as there is an excessive amount of research with conflicting theories and even data.

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So some people believe that the issue is simply too complicated not only for teachers to teach but for students to understand.

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The Political Problem

Resources, teacher understanding, and student comprehension are certainly aspects of why climate change isn’t being taught in schools; however, the main issue seems to be the political debate surrounding the topic. 

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While the majority of Americans absolutely support the fact that humans are directly affecting the climate of our planet, there are people who simply don’t believe the science behind it, and they don’t want climate change taught to their children in school. 

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Some States Are Attempting to Remove All Mention of Climate Change from Schools

It seems that the majority of Americans, and certainly its youth, want more climate change education, but there are some who disagree. 

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In Ohio, one bill was put forward to categorize climate change as a “controversial topic” and wanted teachers to discuss both sides in class. In Oklahoma, new legislation asks students to resist “modern wokeness.” And Texas is even teaching its students the positives of fossil fuels instead. 

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Even the States Pushing for More Climate Change Education Are Struggling

New Jersey recently became the first state to ensure climate change is taught to every grade from kindergarten to graduation, but it’s still been an uphill battle. 

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New Jersey art teacher Carolyn McGrath explained, “The whole of climate change education – climate justice education – can, I think, be intimidating to teachers who do not have a science background.” But she attempts to do her best by incorporating climate change into her art classes. She stated, “Visual imagery can have a different impact on people and can often move them emotionally, move their hearts and minds, in a way a rational argument might not.”

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What Do the Children Have to Say?

According to a study from 2021, thousands of young people from around the world, including the USA, reported that they feel angry, sad, anxious, and guilty about climate change. 

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These children realize that their future is not only not on solid ground, but they are worried, as well as curious as to what is going to happen and, even more importantly, what they can do about it. 

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Climate Change Will Affect Their Life Choices

A senior fellow at the Aspen Institute explained that today’s youth want and need to understand the science behind climate change as it will directly affect the choices they make for their futures. 

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She explained, “Whether it’s decisions about jobs or where they live, their circumstances will be shaped by climate change.”

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The Kids Want to Learn About Climate Change

With a lack of education in their schools, children are doing their own research, talking to their parents, reading books, watching documentaries, and essentially doing everything they can to learn about climate change and what their future might look like. 

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And many hope that the national educational system will catch up soon and be able to ensure every student, even those without the capacity to do their own research, will be taught about this vital topic. 

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