Wednesday, December 06, 2006

ScottishPower Will Pay for Students to See the "Truth"

In an interesting follow-up to last weeks news of the National Science Teachers Association's rejection of 50,000 free copies of An Inconvenient Truth, ScottishPower, a major windfarm developer and operator of a coal fired power plant, has stated that they are "prepared to commit tens of thousands of pounds" towards ensuring every student in Scotland sees the film.

Granted, a windfarm developer obviously stands to gain from more climate friendly policy, but that ignores the fact that this particular company also stands to be liable for the greenhouse gases produced at their coal fired power plant. That aside, the most interesting part of the story is the response from Scotland's school system and government who, unlike the NSTA, is endorsing and seeking to support the initiative.

"The film certainly puts across a view about how the environment could be affected in the coming years, and climate change is something that is already being looked at in many areas of the curriculum." - David Eaglesham, general-secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association

"I entirely accept that the environmental issue is moving up the agenda, but I think it would be preferable that it was used as part of the curriculum, rather than taking an one-off, piece-meal approach." - Ronnie Smith, the general-secretary of the EIS teaching union

"(I am in favour of the) principle of greater environmental awareness, provided it is objectively done" - James Douglas-Hamilton, the Scottish Conservative's education spokesman

"We are aware of the film proposal from ScottishPower and are currently considering this." - Scottish Executive spokesperson

Those quotes are in stark contrast to the NSTA's response, in which they hid behind policy while stating "that the association cannot endorse any outside organization's products and/or messages to its members", and that accepting the DVDs would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters," one of whom is long time global warming denier and misinformation funder Exxon-Mobil.

Certain individuals and members of the NSTA were outraged at the anger directed at the organization for following its stated policy, while at the same time its work supporting students and teachers was ignored. Unfortunately for the NSTA and its members they took the hit for a corruption so widespread that people often do not see it for what it is.

When science educators reject free, scientifically sound resources while openly accepting money from corporations who actively support propaganda that flies in the face of the best principles of science we all have a problem. Sooner or later that conflict of interest cannot help but filter down into the minds of the students that NSTA members are responsible for educating.

Regardless of the good work they have done, the NSTA is facing a needed wake up call. A step in the right direction would be for them to start looking at what education leaders in other nations are doing.

In the meantime, I'm sure the team behind An Inconvenient Truth will be speaking to science teachers in Scotland. It sounds like they could make use of some free DVDs.

1 comment:

James Tiberious Bond said...

As the Program Coordinator for the a Lower Mainland school district with a population of students nearing 20,000, I have purchased a copy of "An Incovenient Truth" for every high school library so that staff and students may easily view the "Truth". Several librarians have quickly responded with praise and intend on purchasing serveral more copeis for their schools. All it takes is a spark to get things going.