Michael Gove is concerned about teachers promoting science in schools. Yes, really

Michael Gove is concerned about teachers promoting science in schools. Yes, really.

The Daily Mail reports today that education secretary Michael Gove has expressed “concern” about a study which accuses “activist” teaching staff of trying to turn pupils into “foot soldiers of the green movement”.

According to the study carried out by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate change denying think-tank set up by former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson, “eco-activists” in the education system are urging children to use “pester power” to force parents to adopt green lifestyle choices.

“We find instances of eco-activism being given a free rein within schools and at the events schools encourage their pupils to attend,” the report claims.

Gove “read the report with concern”, according to a spokesperson for the education secretary.

Schools should not teach that a particular political or ideological point of view is right – indeed it is against the law for them to do so,” the spokesperson added.

Unlike most of the content found in the Daily Mail, it’s actually worth taking a closer look at this piece, if for no other reason than to understand just how loopy some on the right have become over the issue of man made climate change.

What exactly is it that the GWPF- and by extension Micheal Gove – are objecting to here?

According to the GWPF, telling kids to “avoid polluting the world”, “recycle” and “reduce their carbon footprint” is “brainwashing” carried out with the express intention of turning children into “foot soldiers of the green movement”.

But hang on a minute. What exactly is objectionable about teaching children to safeguard the environment? If you can avoid doing so, don’t go around polluting the world – it’s hardly revolutionary advice.

And perhaps, when the GWPF talk about “brainwashing”, they ought to consider who is attempting to brainwash who here.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is “extremely likely” that humans have been the principal cause of warming since the 1950s. An analysis of abstracts of 11,944 peer-reviewed scientific papers, published between 1991 and 2011 and written by 29,083 authors, found that 98.4 per cent of authors who took a position endorsed man-made climate change, with just 1.2 per cent rejecting it and 0.4 per cent uncertain.

There is an overwhelming consensus in support of the theory of anthropogenic global warming, in other words.

Unless Michael Gove is a believer in the foolish relativist notion that there is no such thing as objective truth, then he ought to be quite keen on children leaving school with at least a basic understanding of a phenomenon that 98.4 per cent of scientists are convinced is occurring. Instead he appears to prefer the crackpot climate change denialism of the GWPF, an organisation stuffed with what are far too politely referred to as “sceptics”.

Schools should “not teach that a particular political or ideological point of view is right,” Gove says.

Well no. Schools should follow the evidence and act accordingly. Some points of view are backed by an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence and are therefore “right”. Others aren’t. This is why schools teach kids evolution rather than creationism. It’s why they teach astronomy rather than astrology. And it’s why they encourage children to take care of the environment and to think a little about man-made climate change.

It isn’t a “point of view”. It’s the scientific consensus.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

33 Responses to “Michael Gove is concerned about teachers promoting science in schools. Yes, really”

  1. David Harrison

    You hilarious person.

    Only 5 posts before you play the Nazi card, that has to be a new internet record. I see your Nazi and here is my counter Nazi: ‘The protocols of the Elders of Zion’. Prior to Hitlers big political debut most of Europe was worried about the Jews because of a secret communique intercepted by what would later become the KGB. It detailed how the Jews had been plotting to set the countries of the world against each other so they could rule supreme.

    When it came to light that this was nonsense and that the entire script had been lifted almost word for word from a scathing satirical fiction about Napoleon and written almost a century earlier, almost everyone accepted it was a forgery. Everyone except antisemites like Hitler who concoted ridiculous excuses (such as time travel) so he could hang onto his truth whilst flying in the face of the evidence.

    The fact is that clinate change is a thing. We have proof that many of the by products of modern society damage our delicate ecology.

    Goodbye you silly billy.

  2. Jonathan Cook


  3. Stephen Welch

    Astonishing that so many school kids apparently have no idea of the basics about the environment, take this example from a small Scottish authority: “Currently the council spends £380,000 every year cleaning up litter from
    streets around high schools, most of which is on streets between
    schools and town centres.”* In GWPF terms to advise them to do otherwise is brainwashing?! These guys need their heads looked at…

    * http://www.nhsfife.org/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.display&objectid=86A49A28-E5EB-EEAC-B052ABBF55FC07F1

  4. Timo

    Did you actually read the report? Your very first question was clearly meant to divert attention from the substantive issues raised and discuss something else. “What exactly is objectionable about teaching children to safeguard the environment?” Nothing really, because that is not what the report was about. Then you foolishly embellish to let’s teach astrology instead of astronomy. Every single issue raised you side step: Should we teach our children to be activists and disrespect parents and authority? Giving children free rain to ‘book’/ticket people for driving a car before they even understand the broad picture of energy and simple re-enforce that almost everything in their life bad/wrong or will lead to dire consequences… etc…

    It is a moral issue of what we are thematically teaching.

    So Mr. Gove, what transportation do you use? Have you personally checked you retirement and divested so as not to be the hypocrite that you are setting yourself up to be? Should we have your kids come home with a ALF or SHAC membership already in place?

  5. patrick edwards

    You would have thought that Nigel and his friends as cheerleaders in chief for the concept of possessive individualism, might well understand that it makes complete sense for children to do everything they can to avert the slag heap of a world they will inherit if their elders and betters continue to discount the future by not acting to tackle climate change today. This kind of selfish individualism is the only manifestation of it that I feel happy to give my wholehearted support to!

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