In the last post, I called into question a recent editorial in the leading research journal in science education (Journal of Research in Science Teaching). The recommendations suggested were made more than 2 decades ago in a report that I sited (A Nation at Risk), and more recently, the AAAS published Science for All Americans. This report and subsequent publications by AAAS under the umbella of Project 2061, outlined reform in science education that surely supercedes the article in the JRST.
Charles Hutchison responded to my original post, and pointed out the dismal situation of graduation rates for high schools, and especially for African-Americans, Native-Americans and Hispanics.
The recommendations for reform suggested by AAAS and NSTA have made their way into schools over the past 20 years. However, during that time, the high school drop rate has increased slightly. The reform suggestions that have been made have not impacted the very groups that need reform. Why is that so?
It is a tough question to answer. Science educators have emphasized inquiry and hands-on teaching for as long as I have been a science educator (and that’s a long time). Yet, research that reports the nature of teaching (e.g. strategies used in the classroom), has yet to show that inquiry and hands-on learning lead the way in teaching methodology. It’s still teacher-centered, and presentation-oriented. So, the reforms that have been suggested have really not made their way into classroom practice—on a large scale.
How can that be changed? For starters, the new reformers need to be willing to look at who is NOT doing well in our schools. Why aren’t these students succeeding? What are the barriers preventing them from learning? Reformers also need to be drawn from the classroom as well as from educators, scientists, and citizens that understand the real problems in urban schools—especially middle and high schools.
The challenge is to see how science can be in the service of society, and the students who seem to be failing school today. How can science really help students become interested in school resulting in success?Tags: A Nation at Risk, AAAS, African-American, Hispanic students, Native Americans, NSTA, Project 2061, Reform