Science is a Way of Thinking: So, Why Do We Try and Standardize it?


Figure 1. Carl Sagan and the Universe. Copyright sillyrabbitmythsare4kids, Creative Common Figure 1. Carl Sagan and the Universe. Copyright sillyrabbitmythsare4kids, Creative Commons

Science has been prominent in the media recently.  Stories and programs including the Bill Nye-Ken Ham “debate” on origins, anti-science legislation in Wyoming banning  science standards that include climate science, a new science program on the Science Channel to be hosted by Craig Ferguson, and this weekend, the first of a 13-part series entitled Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey hosted by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.  … Read more

Science Ideas Have a History: The Case for Interdisciplinary Thinking

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Figure 1.  How was this tool used to "discover" the background radiation made by the Big Bang?  Figure 1. How was this tool used to “discover” the background radiation made by the Big Bang?

In a piece published on the Chronicle of Higher Education, Alejandra Dubcovsky, professor of history at Yale University, says  “to understand science, study history.

Indeed, science teachers have used some stories surrounding the history of science to help students understand the context of science, science research, and the relationship between science and society.

Science taught without a context becomes rote learning. … Read more

Inquiry: The Cornerstone of Teaching–Part I

Fifth Article in the series on The Artistry of Teaching

Conservative and neoliberal paradigms dominate education, which have reduced teaching to skills, economic growth, job training, and transmission of information.

In spite of these authoritarian policies,  many K-12 teachers practice a different form of instruction based on principles of equity, social constructivism, progressivism, and informal learning.  The cornerstone of this approach is inquiry, and in this article, I’ll explore the nature of inquiry, and why it is the magnum principium of teaching.… Read more

Boxed In: How the NGSS Impedes Science Teaching

The major journals of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have published articles featuring and explaining to science teachers the nature of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  The journals include The Science Teacher, Science Scope and Science and Children.  For the past several issues, each journal has published articles that deal with different aspects of the NGSS, including what students should know about earth science, life science, and physical science, when they should know it, and why these standards will “help all learners in the nation develop the science and engineering understanding they need to live successful, informed, and productive lives, and that will help them create a sustainable planet for future generations.” (Krajcik 2013, p.… Read more

Online Communities of Practice: Lessons from Yahoo

No doubt you’ve read the news reports telling us that Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, informed all Yahoo employees that they could no longer work at home. There were many people who felt that Mayer did not understand the value of having employees work at home. Some employees were outraged that they could no longer work at home. Yahoo is a very large Internet-based company, why in the world would the CEO order everyone back to work?… Read more

Bill Moyers Interviews “Activist” Zack Kopplin About Science Teaching

Zack Kopplin is an American science education activist.  While he was a high school student at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, the Louisiana legislature passed the Louisiana Science Education Act  signed by Governor Bobby Jindal.  Zack Kopplin, who is now a history major at Rice University was very surprised that Governor Jindal signed this anti-science act, especially since Jindal has a degree in biology, and was a Rhodes Scholar.  In his senior project, Kopplin initiated a campaign to repeal the Louisiana Act by recruiting Professor Barbara Forest, a philosophy professor who had testified in the 2005 Dover intelligent design/creationism case in Pennsylvania.  … Read more

The Neoconservative Drive for Common Standards in Math and Science

For the past two decades there has been a drive to create a common set of standards in math and science (and English Language Arts).  The enterprise is well-funded, and supported not only by the U.S. Department of Education, but by corporate and philanthropic America to the extent that the initiative is pushing ahead at an urgent speed.

The drive to set up common standards is part of “rightest” movement that Dr. Kristen L. Buras (2009) describes in detail in her book Rightist Multiculturalism: Core Lessons on Neoconservative School Reform.  … Read more

Dream Document: The Next Generation Science Standards

Achieve, Inc., a corporate sponsored non-profit company, uploaded the 2nd draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) on its website for review until January 29, 2013.  A final version will be uploaded in March, 2013.

For many educators, the NGSS are just what the doctor ordered to improve science teaching in the U.S.  In fact, some say that it will revolutionize STEM education in the nation.  According to the developers and financial backers of NGSS, the nation’s science education is in shambles, and needs to be fixed. … Read more

Hip-Hop Culture & Science Teaching: Progressive Education in Action

I’ve written several posts on this blog about Professor Christopher Emdin, Professor of Science Education, Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City.

Dr. Emdin has worked for years in New York City schools with urban youth to help teachers change the way they work with their students to bring real meaning to the learning of science.  The kind of teaching environment that Emdin suggests for urban schools is a communal one. Communal classrooms involve students and teachers working with subject matter through interactions that focus on interpersonal relationships, community and the collective betterment of the group.… Read more

Why Do We Promote Consumption And Not Inquiry

Why in a democracy do we promote consumption and not inquiry in science teaching?  Why are we so possessed to have teachers cover the ground and not helping students uncover their connection to the world around them?

The second public draft of The Next Generation Science Standards will be released this December by Achieve, the organization that wrote the Common Core State Standards.  I wish I could link you to the first draft of the science standards, but Achieve pulled them off their website on June 1, 2012 after posting them for about three weeks.… Read more