Advancing a Framework for Climate Change Education in Singapore Through Teacher Professional Development, pp. 3 of 8

The proposed taxonomy of learning outcomes provides a vocabulary to help teachers describe what they want students to learn about climate change. This taxonomy can also help teachers consider to what extent students have learned by focusing on their abilities to apply, analyze, evaluate, and create knowledge about climate change. In other words, we have a structure with which to describe and discern the extent to which education on climate change has provided the necessary conditions for developing a better-informed citizenry that can better manage climate change issues in the future. To illustrate, we can describe the learning outcomes of any climate change learning task using this framework; whether learning has simply resulted in remembering to turn off the light before leaving the room or the ability to analyze and critique the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Subject Matter Knowledge

Despite having a framework with which to describe the learning outcomes of student learning about climate change issues, the subject-matter knowledge about climate change itself has to be first understood. Concepts of climate change, global warming and the greenhouse effects (GHE) are commonly misunderstood. The natural greenhouse effect for example does not result in global warming (Global Greenhouse Warming, 2010). Indeed, climate change as a learning construct is largely misunderstood at many levels and there is often no distinction between learning about the science of climate change and how to mitigate the impact of climate change. Indeed, macro concepts of causality-consequence-management can be used to frame the understanding of the subject matter knowledge of climate change. It is first important to understand the causes of climate change, both human-induced and natural, before one can appreciate how that change impacts human lives. Subsequently, students can then learn how this impact can be managed either through mitigation or adaption strategies.

Teachers are required to understand the definition of climate change and point out to students if it is equivalent to global warming. To provide the background to the activity, the teachers were asked to study the syllabus document on the topic of weather and climate, focusing on the definitions and the key concepts highlighted.  Teachers were then asked to brainstorm what it means to teach climate change based on a conceptual framework of CCE.  To facilitate the brainstorming process several guiding questions were asked, including:

  1. What is the distinction between weather and climate?
  2. What does it mean when we say the climate has changed?
  3. What are the causes of climate change? Are they the result of human activity?
  4. How does climate change affect human beings?
  5. What can we do about it?

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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