Using Climate Change as a Teaching Tool

Steven Dahlberg


Climate change, like many other controversial issues, is an ideal pedagogical tool for encouraging a number of desirable outcomes in environmental education. It serves as an excellent context for teaching the science of complex systems, or chaos, as well as a wide variety of more traditional content. Chaos is a powerful paradigm for building understanding of how the world works. It also empowers students to take individual action on large, seemingly insurmountable problems. Climate change can help make learning relevant; it is the ideal arena for debating the merits and application of the precautionary principle, and for giving students the opportunity to find their own voice in a key public dialog of our time. This process develops a host of desirable learning goals, including problem solving and conflict resolution. Teaching climate change is also challenging. Educators must be flexible and allow, even encourage, a diversity of opinions. Assessment should to be driven by student success in performing specific tasks, rather than by arrival at a “correct” answer.

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Copyright © Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE) ISSN 1205-5352