Tuesday, September 25, 2007

When Science Mattered

I must share one more article. When working on my Masters and later PhD, I spent a great deal of time studying the history of science education since the launch of Sputnik. In today's New York Times there is an article entitled When Science Suddenly Mattered, in Space and Class.

While the launch of Sputnik spurred unprecedented reform in science education, these efforts had fallen off by the early 80s. In 1983, a bipartisan committee produced a federal report called A Nation At Risk, in which they cited the steady decline of science achievement. More than 20 years later, this situation has not changed. Fewer and fewer students these days want to pursue careers in math, science and engineering, with the number of minority students a startlingly small portion of those who do.

This article highlights a bit of the history of science education and attempts to address some of the problems plaguing us today. Here's one problem that is cited.
Dr. Malcolm said some of the blame must go to the way classes are taught, with too much emphasis on memorizing terminology and not enough on concepts. Most students receive teaching-to-the-test instruction, she and other experts say, in which science laboratories are organized like cookbooks, with ingredients, equipment and instructions — and results — known in advance.
It's a great article with much food for thought. Do head on over and check it out.

1 comment:

  1. One thing that never ceases to puzzle me is that science tends to be considered by the public at large as 'the boring subject'. You know, in the same way broccoli is the nasty vegetable (in the UK it's brussels sprouts).
    I want to scream. 'But science is awesome!' 'Science is mind-blowing!' And so on. And the space race was superb. Scientists playing on the paranoia of their masters to pursue their boyhood dreams. What could be better?