Unfortunately, some misuse science. Some of their intentions, are far from benevolent. They see science as a mechanism for political power and control. There is great danger from those who would use science for political control over us.

How do they do this? They instill, and then continuously magnify, fear. Fear is the most effective instrument of totalitarian control.

Chet Richards, physicist,


Monday, 14 February 2011

Classroom Climate Conditioning at work: the plotting, the preaching, the results

 'Teaching Climate Change' - a video for teachers.

I guess it all depends on your point of view.  For me this is a sinister, spine-chilling video from way back in 2008, but I can see how the faithful would be pleased with it, giving insight as it does into the equivalent of two senior Jesuits ensuring the doctrinal correctness of a parish priest with teaching duties.

A professor, a PR/communications man, and a teacher are sitting by a window discussing how best to convert children into political activists for their cause.  Frequent shots from the classroom are spliced in to show their schemes in action, and interviews with some pupils at the end demonstrate some success - youngsters now guilt-ridden, and keen to 'take action'. 

Dramatis Personae
The Professor: David Lambert, Chief Executive of the Geographical Association, part-time professor and co-author of the blog 'Impolite Geography', where a recent post quotes with apparent sympathy these words from someone called Huckle, in 1985: “The struggle to construct and implement a socialist school geography will face many setbacks as it has in the past, but it remains part of the overall struggle for a counter-hegemony and an alternative future”.  No, I don't know what it means either!  But the notion of 'socialist school geography' rings alarm bells in my head, given the appalling track record of socialism in the 20th century, most notoriously in Germany in the 30s and 40s, in the USSR and in Mao's China.

The Communicator: Ed Gillespie, Founder and Director of Futerra, a public relations organisation which looks to have been a great financial success, with clients including the BBC, the government, and many multinational corporations.  Ed is introduced as a 'climate expert', although he lacks any relevant professional qualification or experience in the subject, unless we take the broad definition which could include anyone who notes 'If these wet summers continue, I'll have to give up my vegetable plot' and is able to back that up with some data, and of course at least a speculative link to 'climate change'.  It would have been more accurate to introduce him as a successful businessman with a strong interest in climate alarmism.  (http://www.futerra.co.uk/about_us/directors )

The Teacher: David Dixon, a teacher at Hampstead School.  He comes across as an effective and sympathetic teacher, and is shown working with a dream class of bright, and engaged pupils, albeit ones whose critical faculties did not get displayed by the editor.  David states at the end of the video that he sees teaching 'climate change' as a 'moral duty'.

Their aim: to see how best to make use of 'climate change' to get their ideas across about 'geography', 'diversity', 'sustainability' (this last term used near the end as an umbrella term for everything else).

An early slide in what may be the first lesson has this in a prominent bullet-point:
'How can we alter our lives?' [at time 02m:10s]

Teacher decides in favour of 'steering away from the science ideas', which seems like a good tactic, given that some of the most penetrating attacks on climate alarmism are coming from scientists.
The Professor notes: 'We understand the science.  We trust it.', a catechism which I think triggered the Jesuit analogy in my tiny mind.

Pupils who say the right things about various self- and other-denials, get rewarded with 'Excellent!  Brilliant!', which is a bit much since they are merely doing as they have been told.

The Communicator promotes 'Carbon calculators' as the weapon of choice to get the class engaged in assessing their own lives, those of their parents, as well as of a celebrity and a teacher in their school.  And the movie switches to them doing just that, picking out an outstanding sportsman, David Beckham, as a figure to somehow compute a carbon footprint for, and for it to be seen as a bad thing rather than a symptom, as I would see it, of his great success.  A bit like Al Gore's footprint, which for some reason did not get a mention.

People in the USA are singled out, not so much to celebrate diversity, but to note without challenge a pupil's assertion that they are 'big and drive about a lot'! The USA, spenders of more money on overseas aid, on climate research, on new technologies, on the United Nations, than any other country is reduced to a stereotype. 

The Professor: 'why has it been allowed to happen?'  (Hinting at some authority, possibly a deity, who allows this and forbids that? Surely not!) Why did it allow 'the possibility of ....global catastrophe'  [at 10:11] Switch to big smile of delight by the The Communicator [at 10:12]) - you could almost see the cash-register sparkling in his eyes at that magic word 'catastrophe'.
If I close my eyes, I can picture our balance sheet...
A juxtaposition in time which seems accidently informative, but perhaps in fairness to Ed, it was just a trick of the editor's art.
The Professor: backing away from the deity notion, he slips in the basic cause ot the 'catastrophe' as due the fact that 'we consist of individual nation states', and hints at the discredited, even by leftwingers, 'tragedy of the commons' hypothesis so adored by an earlier generation of environmental activists, a hypothesis named explicitly by The Communicator.

Towards the end, the clear hijacking of 'climate change' as a cloak to smuggle in 'sustainable development' is revealed.  But what, you may ask, is the cloak of 'sustainable development' smuggling in?  A Trojan horse for more government control perhaps, including some kind of supranational version? (please excuse my mixing of metaphors in one short paragraph!)

The Communicator:  '..we can turn kids into a whole bundle of little climate activists..'[at: 12:53-59]).  
Yes you can, but only some of them, some of the time, not all of them, all of the time.  You missed this one for example:

The Teacher: 'we have a moral duty to teach this'.  Your morality may well differ from mine, but that's diversity for you.

Overall, a dismal story.  ( for more 'dismal' on geography teaching in the UK: http://climatelessons.blogspot.com/2011/02/rotting-from-top-government.html )

But let us try to be more cheerful!  Imagine the same framework, but now with a disciple of Julian Simon as the professor and Matt Ridley as the communicator!  In this new version of the clip, they are sharing thoughts about how to convey to children the wonders of the world, and what transformations in the quality of life have been achieved, and how that progress is becoming worldwide now that China and India in particular have given private enterprise a little more freedom to thrive.  The abundance of resources could be illustrated by the shale oil and gas discoveries, and the sequential failures of forecasts of 'peak oil' , not to mention many other 'environmentalist' forecasts of doom refuted by simple or subsequent observations. The cleaner technologies of the most industrialised countries show how pollution can be reduced, and more efficient use made of materials and energy supplies.  The class will be encouraged to imagine how future generations might live, with the promise of destructive, stultifying large-scale poverty fading from the world.  What a planet!  They might come to decide, as does the lead character in a current London play called 'The Heretic', with a bit of hyperbole:

".. that people, not nature, are the real miracle of life. "I've decided that the stars are rubbish. ... The stars are God's mistakes. We are the miracle. Life. Human intelligence. Human innovation, creativity, invention. That is why, every night, the stars gaze down on us in awe."

Now to develop that idea would be radical.  And would seriously challange the establishment view that we must worship nature and hang on the every word of 'environmentalists', apparently in direct proportion to the level of alarm they can muster.  Why not just teach children about climate, how varied it has been in the past, and how it will no doubt continue to vary in the future?  On the way, explaining how industrial and agricultural progress is helping more and more people to reduce their vulnerability to weather events and to climate variation. To give more emphasis to climate science, another version of our remake could choose the professor from a long list of good candidates, such as Lindzen, Spencer, Carter, and many others of that noble ilk.  And the communicator chosen from Monckton, Nova, Delingpole, Montford, and many others of that also noble ilk.  It might be harder to find 'The Teacher' though, as I guess they are liable to get fired or demonised if they step aside from the establishment line on climate.  But somewhere, surely, in private schools at least there are many who could fit the part?  Or perhaps the teacher could be shown in silhouette, with a dubbed voice, to protect his or her identity.  That picture would, by itself, be educational.

Note added 04 May 2012: My original link to the video above no longer works and has now been removed.  A possibly later (October 2011) version of the video is available here: http://www.prometheanplanet.com/en-us/Resources/Item/105435/ks3-4-geography-teaching-climate-change#.T6PPlFKM58F


Unknown said...

Dear JS
Excellent website! This is an important area. I too am distraught beyond words by this school propaganda, an eerie reminder of my youth under communists in Europe.

I especially am like-minded with your suggestions for us sceptics to create an alternative positive vision. Like the political opposition, when you convince the people the government is on the nose – they turn to you to see what alternative vision you have, and sceptics only offer status quo – not enough for a society in love with the concept of progress and change for the sake of it. Also, after 30 years, people are hard wired for environmentalism – it is an emotional truth – so rather that trying to rip down their entire emotional belief system, we should tailor an alternative environmentally plausible vision.

But with kids today – I weep. What happened to Startrek of my generation – go forth into the universe to spread the goodness of man – today’s children believe they are a plague on the perfection of Gaia, we should live in the dark, do the least possible and above all sort our garbage. Oh, and be 2 billion fewer.

I like your “…how to convey to children the wonders of the world, and what transformations in the quality of life have been achieved, and how that progress is becoming worldwide now that China and India in particular have given private enterprise a little more freedom to thrive. “

Look to technology to provide lots of energy from shale oil, thorium and maybe LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) and electric cars but only when technology makes it efficient, not as a crash state sponsored decarbonization. Want to save the world?? Study physics, nuclear and chemistry, not environmentalism.

Maybe you could gradually assemble a short course for students – an alternative positive environmental view – a resource for teachers. I know I am preparing to write to my school that I don’t want my 9 year old to see the Al Gore’s movie they have made part of the English curriculum (Australia), at least without explanation of the errors.

I am also re-instating my www.nocarbontax.com.au website since our prime minister reactivated plans for ETS (Carbon Trading) and will make a single page guide for the disinterested. I also have www.climateskepticshop.com.

Keep it coming and I will forward your website and look forward to revisiting.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with this initiative. However, in the UK there are other areas outside the classroom which have a strong influence inside. These include:
- school departments and governing boards,
- the teacher training establishments,
- any county council education employee who advises on teaching materials in schools
- examining boards,
- editors of the National Curriculum, and the resulting influence on textbooks and materials,
- various central government departments, who appear to be acting as one central agency to enforce CAGW as reality and to suppress dissent by all means.

At the moment the downward pressure applied from these entities is considerable, with explicit threats to teachers' career prospects if they do not teach CAGW as fact in classrooms. (There are similar pressures in other subjects, but I restrict myself here to climate change as taught in science and geography.)

The campaign for excising this quasi-religion from the compulsory part of the teaching and a return to "real" science and geography will probably have to deal with the entities listed above as well as the classroom itself.

A key problem outside the scope of this blog is that there is now so much vested financial interest from taxation seekers and pension-funder holders and the media to perpetuate this fear that one can expect considerable resistance coupled with considerable financial backing.

Back at the classroom, my limited experience is that the private sector could provide persons who are less vulnerable to dismissal or sanctions should they take part, and therefore might be less anxious about taking part.

By the way, a small first-step would be to deprecate the use of the phrase "carbon footprint" in classrooms: this advertising gimmick has really taken hold in some counties. And I would be wary of free "information packs" and "teaching resources" coming from companies with financial dependency on wind or solar power.

JS said...

Thank you for these comments - much appreciated, and encouraging for me and hopefully others who share our concerns.

I like the idea of preparing a short course, as you suggest Michael. It would be good to work on something so positive, although as suffolkboy points out, the deployment of it would be another story altogether. I don't have time to pick up on it in the near future, but perhaps others already are? Let's hope so.

kevin said...

what a shocker! It reminds me of parts of "surely you're joking Mr. Feynman", where Feynman suddenly realises that we are still surrounded by voodoism and cargo cult science although we are living in technologically advanced societies. This piece really is depressing. It's a science course and the dope skips the science bit!

Andy said...

I'm a (maths) teacher in a small private school here in the UK. The science teacher has taken exception to me putting up a display in my classroom of graphs showing MWP, Antarctic ice growth, etc. The kids are fascinated by the graphs, and when I talk them through the concepts the graphs are demonstrating the kids look relieved to be told we are not on a highway to AGW Armageddon. The most illuminating moment (for me) is when some of the kids say, "But Sir, you're a maths teacher - why have you got science graphs in your classroom?" I then have to explain that maths is a branch of science and go on to discuss the idea of always being a sceptical scientist. Very few of them have been taught to question what is presented to them by teachers, instead they have been instructed to accept 'facts' unquestioningly. It is depressing that they have not been taught the REAL scientific method of continual sceptiscism.

JS said...

In another era, the science, and the geography, teachers would surely have been delighted at the overlap, the enhancement of learning which your charts would have brought to the pupils. Now it seems to be seen as a distraction, a subversive disruption to the task of getting the 'correct' narrative across.

George Curtis said...

What this column indicates above all else is the disastrous effect that the deliberate politicisation of teaching personnel by the extreme left wing has had upon their collective intellectual calibre. Teaching "degrees" are now little more than a statement that you have submitted to political indoctrination, and can no longer think for yourself. A sizeable number of teachers are scarcely literate and should be removed from schools for the sake of the children, who have but one shot at learning. Teaching used to be a respected profession, not a nine to five job. I suggest that all teaching degrees be abolished, and that nobody under the age of thirty who has not worked in the private sector/armed forces for at least five years be allowed to teach at all, and in general learn at the coal face under experienced and patently competent teachers. We might then get a responsible, disciplined element back into schooling and restore pupils self respect to them. In its absence they learn little or nothing and expect to be waited on hand and foot, wimps in excelsis, useless to themselves and everybody else, mere parasites in the belly of the people.