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US Science Education: Mediocre to Awful.  SCIAM

 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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24 November 2012 13:06
 
Jefe - 16 November 2012 12:18 PM

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/budding-scientist/2012/02/01/u-s-state-science-standards-are-mediocre-to-awful/


What exactly is going wrong? The study’s lead authors identified four main factors: an undermining of evolution, vague goals, not enough guidance for teachers on how to integrate the history of science and the concept of scientific inquiry into their lessons, and not enough math instruction.

States cited for vague standards include Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. One example: New Jersey fourth graders are asked to “Demonstrate understanding of the interrelationships among fundamental concepts in the physical, life and Earth systems sciences.” Meanwhile, in A-scoring California, the standards explain to teachers and curriculum writers much more specifically that “Electricity and magnetism are related effects that have many useful applications in everyday life.” The standards go on to list half a dozen specific skills and facts that students must master in order to understand that overarching concept, such as “Students know electrical energy can be converted to heat, light, and motion.”

The report also notes that standards for introducing scientific inquiry into classrooms are, in many states, vague to the point of uselessness. In Idaho, students are “merely asked to ‘make observations’ or to ‘use cooperation and interaction skills.’ ”


Jefe

I live in New Hampshire.  My kids (got) are getting a great science and math education in high school.  No creation science here, at least in the public school system.  However, the class levels are stratified; honors (or advanced placement), A-level (college bound), B-level (maybe college bound), and C-level (community college or not college bound).  There are alot more B and C level classes.  The amount of detail is reduced at the B and C levels.  The math and science problems are often, but not always geared toward everday activity.  Despite this, the grades are still lower in the B and C level classes as opposed to what is seen in the A levels.  I think that often (but not always) the problem starts at the top>>> the Parents.

Forget changing the curriculum we need to change the parents???

Jeff

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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24 November 2012 13:48
 

jdrnd:
What do you think of coercion as a tactic for teaching critical thinking…

What do you mean by coercion?  Rapping the knuckles?  Requiring repeat of the course before graduation?  Taking away privileges?  Military practices were mentioned in passing—yelling?  push-ups?  latrine duty?

Maybe I’m getting carried away here…coercion has negative connotations.  How about motivation?

Yes, the parents have a lot to do with it, within the parameters of the child’s natural temperament and abilities.  If the parents value knowledge and ability, likely the child will also.

When I mentioned cultivating a garden, I meant more of a vegetable garden.  When a person is trying to grow food, she learns more.  It’s pretty easy to grow marigolds.  But try tomatoes in Colorado.  You need to learn to discern loam from the rocky soil, how to take advantage of microclimates in your yard, select varieties suited for the local short growing season, parse precious water to the thirstiest plants, protect from hail, recognize pests.  With marigolds, you can just spray pesticide if they get buggy—with veggies, you think about less toxic solutions, like rotating planting areas, etc.  All this means the gardener learns about water conservation, weather and seasonal nuances, organic gardening, etc.  Slowly, the gardener finds herself researching different modes of composting, appreciating earthworms and rolly polly bugs, watching the clouds.  She observes how a tomato or a zucchini develops from a flower.  She wonders how a seedless watermelon is produced, and she Googles that.  She finds that the tomato seedlings from the local nursery grow much better than the cheap variety from Walmart.  She starts to wonder why.

A vegetable garden is a great school.

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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24 November 2012 14:46
 
jdrnd - 24 November 2012 12:06 PM

Forget changing the curriculum we need to change the parents???

Jeff

Agree with that.  There is a significant under-current of anti-science or downplaying the importance of science in a significant portion of the us population, and this undercurrent makes its way into the periphery of news and media as well.  It would be nice if there was a lot more positive reinforcement of sciences in our culture.

 
 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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24 November 2012 16:14
 
Hannah2 - 24 November 2012 12:48 PM

jdrnd:
What do you think of coercion as a tactic for teaching critical thinking…

What do you mean by coercion?  Rapping the knuckles?  Requiring repeat of the course before graduation?  Taking away privileges?  Military practices were mentioned in passing—yelling?  push-ups?  latrine duty?

Maybe I’m getting carried away here…coercion has negative connotations.  How about motivation?

Yes, the parents have a lot to do with it, within the parameters of the child’s natural temperament and abilities.  If the parents value knowledge and ability, likely the child will also.

When I mentioned cultivating a garden, I meant more of a vegetable garden.  When a person is trying to grow food, she learns more.  It’s pretty easy to grow marigolds.  But try tomatoes in Colorado.  You need to learn to discern loam from the rocky soil, how to take advantage of microclimates in your yard, select varieties suited for the local short growing season, parse precious water to the thirstiest plants, protect from hail, recognize pests.  With marigolds, you can just spray pesticide if they get buggy—with veggies, you think about less toxic solutions, like rotating planting areas, etc.  All this means the gardener learns about water conservation, weather and seasonal nuances, organic gardening, etc.  Slowly, the gardener finds herself researching different modes of composting, appreciating earthworms and rolly polly bugs, watching the clouds.  She observes how a tomato or a zucchini develops from a flower.  She wonders how a seedless watermelon is produced, and she Googles that.  She finds that the tomato seedlings from the local nursery grow much better than the cheap variety from Walmart.  She starts to wonder why.

A vegetable garden is a great school.

Hannah,

I really had the urge to say don’t stop at just rapping knuckles, if the student doesn’t get a B+ or better CUT THEM OFF; But then you would think poorly of me.


In mentioning coercion, the influence of parents, and students wanting (or not wanting) to learn, I was alluding to cultural influences.  The importance of “wanting to know science” trickles down from the people that influence us as kids… as you point out.  But that influence that our parents provide is a subtle form of coercion. 

Also there are people I know who carry the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder and do poorly in school, yet they excel in the military. They are not taking stimulants or other meds. They often excel in areas that require some degree of academic training, yet they barely passed in high school.  The differences in the military are
1. they are older,
2. they have fewer distractions, and
3. there is a degree of coercion.

And as for your gardening example, most people ask the people at the Garden center what they should do or they buy the advertised “Super deluxe miracle Grow… guaranteed to make anything (even a stick) bloom with a thousand flowers.  Few people do their own research.

Jeff

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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24 November 2012 17:43
 
Jefe - 24 November 2012 01:46 PM
jdrnd - 24 November 2012 12:06 PM

Forget changing the curriculum we need to change the parents???

Jeff

Agree with that.  There is a significant under-current of anti-science or downplaying the importance of science in a significant portion of the us population, and this undercurrent makes its way into the periphery of news and media as well.  It would be nice if there was a lot more positive reinforcement of sciences in our culture.

In the conclusion of his book, ‘LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION,’ Sam Harris writes:

“We desperately need a public discourse that encourages critical thinking and intellectual honesty.  Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith . . .

“Clearly, it is time we learned to meet our emotional needs without embracing the preposterous . . . without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality.  Only then will the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish be widely recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is.  And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.”  (end quote)

Most kids who study science are coming from households that are imbued with lies about the nature of reality.

 
 
robbrownsyd
 
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robbrownsyd
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24 November 2012 17:55
 
unsmoked - 24 November 2012 04:43 PM
Jefe - 24 November 2012 01:46 PM
jdrnd - 24 November 2012 12:06 PM

Forget changing the curriculum we need to change the parents???

Jeff

Agree with that.  There is a significant under-current of anti-science or downplaying the importance of science in a significant portion of the us population, and this undercurrent makes its way into the periphery of news and media as well.  It would be nice if there was a lot more positive reinforcement of sciences in our culture.

In the conclusion of his book, ‘LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION,’ Sam Harris writes:

“We desperately need a public discourse that encourages critical thinking and intellectual honesty.  Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith . . .

“Clearly, it is time we learned to meet our emotional needs without embracing the preposterous . . . without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality.  Only then will the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish be widely recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is.  And only then will we stand a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world.”  (end quote)

Most kids who study science are coming from households that are imbued with lies about the nature of reality.

You’re right, unsmoked. I agree with what Sam Harris has said.  It’s about accepting and valuing reality and what is true. Without that, progress, material or moral, is impossible.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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25 November 2012 01:03
 
jdrnd - 24 November 2012 03:14 PM
Hannah2 - 24 November 2012 12:48 PM

jdrnd:
What do you think of coercion as a tactic for teaching critical thinking…

What do you mean by coercion?  Rapping the knuckles?  Requiring repeat of the course before graduation?  Taking away privileges?  Military practices were mentioned in passing—yelling?  push-ups?  latrine duty?

Maybe I’m getting carried away here…coercion has negative connotations.  How about motivation?

Yes, the parents have a lot to do with it, within the parameters of the child’s natural temperament and abilities.  If the parents value knowledge and ability, likely the child will also.

When I mentioned cultivating a garden, I meant more of a vegetable garden.  When a person is trying to grow food, she learns more.  It’s pretty easy to grow marigolds.  But try tomatoes in Colorado.  You need to learn to discern loam from the rocky soil, how to take advantage of microclimates in your yard, select varieties suited for the local short growing season, parse precious water to the thirstiest plants, protect from hail, recognize pests.  With marigolds, you can just spray pesticide if they get buggy—with veggies, you think about less toxic solutions, like rotating planting areas, etc.  All this means the gardener learns about water conservation, weather and seasonal nuances, organic gardening, etc.  Slowly, the gardener finds herself researching different modes of composting, appreciating earthworms and rolly polly bugs, watching the clouds.  She observes how a tomato or a zucchini develops from a flower.  She wonders how a seedless watermelon is produced, and she Googles that.  She finds that the tomato seedlings from the local nursery grow much better than the cheap variety from Walmart.  She starts to wonder why.

A vegetable garden is a great school.

Hannah,

I really had the urge to say don’t stop at just rapping knuckles, if the student doesn’t get a B+ or better CUT THEM OFF; But then you would think poorly of me.


In mentioning coercion, the influence of parents, and students wanting (or not wanting) to learn, I was alluding to cultural influences.  The importance of “wanting to know science” trickles down from the people that influence us as kids… as you point out.  But that influence that our parents provide is a subtle form of coercion. 

Also there are people I know who carry the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder and do poorly in school, yet they excel in the military. They are not taking stimulants or other meds. They often excel in areas that require some degree of academic training, yet they barely passed in high school.  The differences in the military are
1. they are older,
2. they have fewer distractions, and
3. there is a degree of coercion.

And as for your gardening example, most people ask the people at the Garden center what they should do or they buy the advertised “Super deluxe miracle Grow… guaranteed to make anything (even a stick) bloom with a thousand flowers.  Few people do their own research.

Jeff

Well, regarding gardening, I guess you must live in an area (like the NW or Midwest) where the soil is fertile and there is plenty of rain.  Here in the arid, rocky west, you can’t just pour on the Miracle Grow.  Most people have meager gardens unless they really know what they are doing and experiment through the years.  But be that as it may…

I’m thinking your use of the word coercion could be substituted with necessity.  It doesn’t just happen in the military.  In any job, you have to learn what is necessary, or you face the consequences.  In the military, you get disciplined or demoted before being thrown out.  In civilian life, you might just get canned.

It is true that most American students take education for granted.  Many do not take advantage of the opportunity.  Personally, I wish there were more options to learn a trade in high school.

 
nv
 
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nv
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25 November 2012 01:27
 

I’m afraid I started using the word coercion, Hannah, and yes it perhaps wasn’t the best word choice. While I was studying the Suzuki method, it did not seem coercive to me. It wasn’t until I spoke to the Suzuki graduate I mentioned yesterday that the idea of coercion came to mind for me. Setting up an environment for optimal motivation toward learning is just good practice, obviously. My instructor always engaged the kids in fun games, and every lesson was a game.

 
 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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25 November 2012 23:08
 
nonverbal - 25 November 2012 12:27 AM

I’m afraid I started using the word coercion, Hannah, and yes it perhaps wasn’t the best word choice. While I was studying the Suzuki method, it did not seem coercive to me. It wasn’t until I spoke to the Suzuki graduate I mentioned yesterday that the idea of coercion came to mind for me. Setting up an environment for optimal motivation toward learning is just good practice, obviously. My instructor always engaged the kids in fun games, and every lesson was a game.


Its just semantics

how about the term “controlled pressure”?

 
nv
 
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nv
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26 November 2012 01:22
 

Yes—controlled pressure is a more accurate phrase. The teacher and parent both can cross over into the negativity of coercion if they lack a certain sensitivity, no doubt.

 
 
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