Politically Free Environmental Science
A recent report by NPR news tells of a teacher at Lewis County High School in Weston, West Virginia who is determined to teach Environmental Science and keep politics out of her classroom at the same time. Tiffany Litton holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. She decided to forgo pursuing a career in law to become a high school teacher. Why? Her goal is simple. She wants her students to be better stewards of the environment and felt she could have a bigger impact as a teacher than a lawyer. “My science class is not the place to promote any agenda, its the place to promote facts…” states Miss Litton to NPR news when being interviewed for this story. She has won the trust of her students by respecting their views and not preaching to them. Encouraging even those students who hold a different view than her own, she has been known to award A’s to those who can bring a well researched counter argument to the table.
The students are listening and learning. One father (who happens to be a coal mining equipment distributor) candidly remarked that he does not want his daughter influenced and becoming one of those “tree huggers”. His daughter, a student of Miss Litton’s, respectfully comments that in her opinion her father’s generation does not understand the damage that has been done to the environment.
Miss Litton sticks to scientific questions and research. She has her students read Meltdown a book written by Patrick Michaels, a professor at the University of Virginia. The book holds the view that Global Warming is cyclical and that the news coverage has been dominated by hysteria. On the other hand, she teaches her students about green house gases and reducing the use of non-renewable energy sources. Her students research and discuss how long energy sources such as coal and oil will last. Miss Litton encourages pursuing clean renewable energy sources.
The president of the National Science Teachers Association states that Miss Litton is an exception to the rule. Most high school science teachers do not hold degrees in this field. He also states that most local school districts in our country view environmental science in the same manner as the evolution debate. He said they consider it “too hot” and stay away from offering classes in the subject.
This brings us to the question, is this possible? Can we educate our children about environmental science without the politics that often accompanies such discussions? Do environmental efforts have to be political or even politically motivated? I think we can embrace this together, from all sides. I agree with and applaud Miss Litton in her efforts!
Photo Credit: Riah’s Photography