This blog was begun in 2005 with the publication of the first edition of The Art of Teaching Science. Six hundred or so posts later, we find ourselves in at the end of 2011.
This year, we published four eBooks based on blog posts made during 2011. More eBooks will be published in 2012. The eBooks that were published are free, and available by simply clicking on the links of the titles shown below. All are in PDF format, except the Enigma of High Stakes Testing, which is in Word.
I have become increasingly concerned about the effects of the corporate reform movement not only on science education, but the whole of our public schools as we know them. The teaching profession is weathering and eroding in the midst of the detached and impersonal reform efforts primarily being led by a group of corporate billionaires, and their minions. For profit schools, and the fraudulent assumption that a market based solution to school choice will result in better education, higher test scores, and a robust economy is hogwash. The high-stakes mania has driven teachers and administrators in schools throughout the country to cheat, and for state departments of education to fall into step with the corporate commanders. There is little criticism of the present state of reform, and when teachers do raise questions, they are usually ignored, or reminded that they are simply union works looking for more. None of this is true.
In science education, we are faced with the onset to a New Generation of Science Standards. Last summer, the National Research Council (NRC) released A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas. The Framework is being used by Achieve, Inc., to develop the Next Generation of Science Standards for American schools. It will be published sometime in 2012. According to the developers, many states have joined the effort to develop the standards, and also working with Achieve is NSTA and AAAS. There is a Website that you can visit to find out about the Next Generation Standards, but I am suspicious of all of the fanfare being given to announcements about this state and that state “joining” the effort. Only 41 teachers have been selected to write the standards and it is not clear how this is being done.
The rationale for the new standards is based on the belief that American science education is inferior to science education in many other countries. Too much attention is given to test scores comparing one country to another, especially when there is little basis for such comparisons. We have been stuck in the mud with an inferiority complex which does not connect with science in American society. We are one of the most progressive in innovation and development of new ideas, and scientists in the U.S. publish more papers than their peers from other countries. How can our schools be so bad as to end up with a result like this?
I’ve written many blog posts on these ideas, and have put them together into four different E-Books that I hope you will download for your use. The eBooks are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike license, so you are free to use, change, and distribute them in any manner you choose.
Here are links to download the eBooks, and brief descriptions of each.
In the new science education documents that I have referenced above, there is no discussion of the question Why do we teach science? There is a wealth of information about what to teach, and how to teach. But little investigation into why we teach science. In this eBook, based on philosophical work by R. Steven Turner, and Robin Millar, four arguments are used to try and find out why we teach science. These arguments include: The Economic Argument, The Democratic Argument, The Skills Argument, and The Cultural Argument.
Extreme Earth raises questions about the nature of science, especially as it relates to climate change and plate tectonics. Global warming has been in thepublic eye for years now, as scientific panels and independent scientific research studies have suggested that the changes in earth’s weather and climate might, to some degree, be due to human activity, especially fossil fuel extraction and the burning of fuels resulting in a 25 – 30% increase in CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. Unfortunately the science of climate change has become politicized, and resulted in the what some say is a “head in the sand” approach to doing something about the changes going on all around us.
Extreme Earth is also about natural disasters, but because of the spread of human habitats into paths of hurricanes, and along well-known fault zones, millions of people experience horrendous disasters, as we have witnessed in the recent past.
Extreme Earth explores these issues, raises questions for science teachers, and points to ways to involve students in these tumultuous events.
In this eBook, we will explore the science standard’s movement by presenting posts on these topics:
• The Race to the Top
• Frameworks and Standards
• Using Tests to Assess Performance
Questions are raised about why common standards, and misconceptions surrounding the use of international and high-stakes tests continue to be connected with the reform education in the United States.
We will look at the Framework for K-12 Science Education, and discuss the underlying purpose of using common standards in American schools. We will also examine the results of international tests such as PISA and TIMSS and question the interpretation of critics that these results show that the “sky is falling” or that we have on our hands another “Sputnik moment.”
Finally, in a letter to the President, I integrate the President’s personal views of education with the humanistic science paradigm as a way to reform education.
The content of this eBook is based on the position that high-stakes testing, which are used to make life-changing decisions about students, teachers, and schools, should be banned from use in making life-changing decisions affecting students, teachers, or schools.
Research evidence is provided in 21 articles that are presented here,
and organized into five parts. The intent is to provide information that others can use to raise questions about why we continue this practice of bringing such pressure to bear on the entire education system, the collateral effects on science teaching. As I show in the pages that follow, there is little evidence that continuing to use high-?stakes testing will improve student achievement, or improve America’s economy.