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Science - The US teaches it Wrong

On a personal level I fought the inherent problems of teaching science wrong. I taught science to 6 - 9th graders from the basic student population thru the gifted and talented students. But let me back up a minute. My belief of how we've been teaching science wrong in the US isn't a function of only my experience. It's a result of the US's combined understanding. And I'm not using standardized tests to substantiate my position. As we all know standardized test are designed to evaluate what we can regurgitate.

In the US there are two scientific battles being waged and had science been taught appropriately over my generation there really wouldn't be any in doubts to speak of. They are, Evolution and Global Warming. I'm not going into how they are scientifically accurate; that is the relm of the practicing scientists. I going into why we've failed in our science education.

Years ago Marshall McCluen wrote the book The Medium is the Message. In that book he describes how the Japenese was able to go from a 3rd world culture to a fully functioning western culture in one generation. In a nutshell; the Japenese accepted what we had done and then built on it. They didn't have to replicate all that the primire industrialized nations had done to catch up. They accepted. Then they built.

We MUST teach that way for science to be of any value in the US. We can NOT try to replicate everything we've done in science in students minds and then continue. Simply put there is too much. And how can we do that?

The tools of Science are very simply: Observe, Hypothesis, Test, Evaluate, Predict. You can find various combination of those argued about but that is the essence. That we can teach. Teaching the tools is not rigourous, teaching these tools can be fun (one of the alleys of education that gets our future in trouble., And teaching theses tools can be done from about 4th grade on and really ought to be over by 9th grade. 99% of the students will have the cognitive skills to fully understand the basics of science. Once students have the basics science teachers can begin to teach the story of science. Please note I did not say the next 4 years should be about a 100 scientific experiments done in the classroom. Oh! there needs to be a spattering of those. But we've taught for the last generation by having kids do "Hands on Science" and see where that has gotten us. Once kids have the basics they can see much faster what science can to thru stories, Galileo, The HMS Bounty, Newton. We don't all; in fact the vast majority of us don't need to have have an Apple fall on our head to understand the basics of gravity. The exploration of gravity is now the relm of scientists, not public school students.



All images and content copyright of David A. Kall