“Docendo discimus,” is a Latin proverb that means, “By teaching, we learn,” said differently, if you want to master something, teach it!
Many years ago, my 7th grade teacher taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten. Danny Skaluba and I were arguing about which was “better” rockets or jets, which made about as much sense as arguing about which color is better, red or blue. Nonetheless, it was a disagreement that was headed to a ‘settlement conference’ in the alley behind St. Celestine School.
Intervening in our ‘discussion,’ Sister Helen Marie used our disagreement as an opportunity to teach a life lesson. Danny and I were given a choice, we could clean blackboard erasers after school for a week, or we could teach the class what we knew about rockets and jets.
Danny chose to clean erasers (why I’ll never know) but I decided to ‘teach the class.’ And what I learned has proven invaluable because without realizing it, I became far more knowledgeable about the subject than I had ever imagined. And frankly, after putting in the effort to learn enough to teach my classmates, my position changed 180 degrees and ignited the fire that eventually led me to becoming a Naval Aviator ten years later.
I relate this experience because what we should all find concerning about the climate debate is what our kids are learning in school. I’m not educator and my information about what’s being taught in our classrooms is purely anecdotal. However, I have five grandchildren aged 8 to 18: each in a different grade, each attending a different school with two of them in different states. Yet without fail, when the topic of the environment or climate change is raised, what they and their friends have to say is remarkably consistent with what I see and hear from climate activists. So, is this a coincidence, or could all five be receiving the same information from their teachers and professors?
Sometimes when opposing opinions are presented on an issue it can cause contention, however honest debate is healthy debate because it inspires creative thinking, open-mindedness, and innovative ideas. And that’s precisely what parents want their children exposed to. However, I question whether this is happening in our schools regarding the subject of climate change.
Now I’m not suggesting that teachers start handing out “teaching assignments” to their 7th graders as happened to me, but at the same time it’s critical that our young people are exposed to all aspects of the climate debate. The science we learned in grade school is a collection of certainties about the natural world, e.g., the earth revolves around the sun, DNA carries the blueprint of an organism and so on. But climate science is less about collecting pieces of knowledge than it is about reducing the uncertainties in what we do know about a field of study that’s rife with uncertainties.
For example, science is quite certain about the physics of an apple falling from a tree but understanding the turbulent convection currents in the upper atmosphere remains a work in progress after more than a century of effort.
A few years ago, Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg gave her now famous, “How dare you! speech at the United Nations encouraging school-age children from around the world to go on strike for climate change; “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction.” Her speech was powerful, impassioned, heart-felt and completely unsupported; nevertheless, the world ate it up in a classic case of emotion trumping reason.
I have no way of knowing how of if Greta’s speech affected our teachers and students. But I do suspect this is the line of thinking that’s occurring within our schools. Having said that, I hope I’m mistaken and that the uncertainties of climate science are included in any classroom discussion. Regrettably though, I have seen absolutely no evidence of this with any of my grandkids or their friends.
Quote of the day: “Perfect students with perfect parents in a perfect society cannot learn things they are not being taught.”—Thomas Sowell