Should Climate Change be taught in schools?

Sean Plunket 13/01/2020

Minister for Climate Change James Shaw defends initiative to introduce a curriculum teaching the impact of climate change in schools.

In his first interview for 2020 Sean Plunket challenges the Minister to explain the syllabus behind and justification for a curriculum dedicated to Climate Change in schools.

During the interview Sean asks the Minister to explain specific examples of what might be covered in the education and pushes Shaw to give a justification as to why children need to learn about climate change in schools.

Shaw argued the syllabus - modelled on a trial at New Brighton School in Christchurch - is "based on the science so you can dispute that all you like". 

Plunket shot back: "Well, clearly you can't dispute that at all you like if you're an intermediate school kid... you're going to be told you can't dispute it."

Shaw replied: "Of course you can, but you'd have to go to town against the entire New Zealand scientific community and suggest that they were wrong."

The new resources for teaching climate change in schools was announced on Sunday by Education Minister Chris Hipkins, who said kids will be taught the "role science plays in understanding climate change".

The resource, called 'Climate Change - prepare today, live well tomorrow', includes video, text and guidance. It will be available for students in years 7-10 and will be optional. 

It will teach things like the difference between weather and climate, as well as sea-level rise impacts and the effects of agriculture on the climate, according to Shaw. 

The pilot was picked up by the Ministry of Education and is supported by organisations including NASA, NIWA, and National Geographic for Kids, among others. 

"We're getting a lot of demand from teachers so the fact that there were some resources that had been developed, once it was piloted and some changes were made, it seemed appropriate to be rolling out," Shaw said. 

You can listen to the full interview above.