How science education can be better

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by Zylark, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. Hands up all that was bored out of their ass during various science classes at school.

    Yup, that would be most of us.

    I hated biology, chemistry and physics at school. Not to mention math. I was more of a social-sciences, arts and politics focused student back then. I even went through University not thinking much about the hard sciences.

    It took me quite the few years after so-called education to gather a sense of taste for physics and other hard sciences.

    What I learned in school, was to me futile and way too detail oriented. It did not inspire me, as I now know physics can.

    The problem as I see it with the teaching of any hard science, is that it digs into arbitrary details, and glance over the big picture. Or put another way, getting it the wrong way around.

    Who needs to know what chemical compunds do what, until one first have learned to love what chemistry is and can do? Who cares what force interacts with another, until the grand picture of our universe have been laid out for us and how those forces work in that model?

    Science education up to and including the high-school level should be about concepts, not details. Anyone wanting to dig into the details can study that at any university or college. Us mere mortals however, are put off by memorizing a lot of shit we will never need.

    What I know of science, I did not learn in school. Not even University, but I did learn the method and philosophy of science there. Which strikes me as a bit odd.

    The method of science is not a difficult concept. Any first grader, or six year old if you wish, can grasp it.

    Why do not science education start there? Method, then philosophy, moving on to concepts, and for those really interested, getting into details.

    It would make everything so much simpler, and I dare say, better as more would get caught with the bug.

    I was at least 25 before I started getting into these things. A bit late.

    We need our young to get into these things as soon as possible. That will not happen as long as the teaching of hard sciences only produce yawns and parroting of factoids.

    Time to teach the concepts, let the details be for those that get inspired, rather than kill inspiration by details... :)
  2. Great post, I agree with all the sentiments whoelheartedly, +rep.:)

    I was in a similar position. I wanted to learn about physics from about the age of 7, but neither my primary school nor secondary school taught them. I got a real taste for science helping my elder sister (who was at a school where they did teach such things) revise for exams, so could only learn through her books. Science was pretty much restricted to very basic chemistry and biology at my own school and I was gagging to know more about the more exciting subjects, but it wasn't until I actually left that I had the opportunity to teach myself all the subjects I actually was excited to learn about. School doesn't help people learn to love math or sciences,because it hits them over the head with the dull side of it all too early on. Shame, we do need a science revolution, not all if it is as boring as it seems to some,

  3. I could not agree more. There were so many times in high school science/math that I would stop a teacher to ask "but how do you know that?," only to get a convoluted, teacher-speak reply that just proved that neither of us truly "got it."

    Now that I am in university, I have finally have a math teacher that is emphasizing not the mundane technical procedures and rules, but how math applies to the universe. Who would have ever thought that a high school math flunkie would find calculus so interesting?
  4. Besides the point that the entire education system here in the US needs to be fixed big time, science is indeed a subject that is getting less attention when it has an ever-growing importance

    I read an article in (coincidentally) Scientific American that dealt with this exact issue and gave some nice feedback and coverage, i suggest giving it a quick read

    Here it is: A New Vision for Teaching Science: Scientific American

    The article states that new psychological research shows the ages that children can grasp certain important scientific concepts, theories, abstract thinking, etc is earlier than previously thought. So applying this new knowledge to the science curriculum would make it more efficient

    The article also suggests on focusing on core topics such as atomic-molecular theory, evolutionary theory, cell theory, and force and motion

    The last paragraph has some very good points. It points out that students often have a negative attitude towards science due to poor classroom experience (here comes in all those times being 'bored as hell' in science class), not being able to grasp the material completely (here's where the curriculum needs to be improved), and feeling that the science doesn't apply to their life, when in reality in our age of more advanced technology and medicines than ever before in history, and global climate change growing in importance, science has never applied more to our lives
  5. I wholeheartedly agree Zylark, the problem is you need good teachers who actually teach, not just spew the facts at you. The public education system in America is not set up to make young minds ask questions, but to accept what a teacher says is fact and memorization.
  6. The problem child left behind. Not necessarily the program of that name, but the idea of it. You can't have a classroom of mixed children and expect everyone is going to learn at the same rate. We need to teach different children differently. We actually NEED segregated schools. Including boys and girls.
  7. I love science and math :confused_2:
  8. I fully agree Zylark, not because I had shitty science teachers, but because they taught just in the manner you described. We had a great science department in highschool that produced a few really adept scientists and many more people who understood and/or at least appreciated the scientific method. Our math teachers could have been better, they were a bunch of old, crotchety ladies. Unfortunately, I can see by looking at the rest of society, my experience was somewhat unique.

    You're on a slippery slope ibjamming. We don't need to resegregate our schools by race, economics, intelligence, gender or other imperfect classification. What we need is more flexibility for the students to choose what they are interested in, to be able to suggest a progression road map then and provide opportunities for them to pursue them. The rigid curriculum is obsolete. We don't need to teach everyone the same subjects with the same hierarchy of importance, we need a diverse set of experts that know how to collaborate. The only ideological base they need is the scientific method, ethics and civics, all of which could be taught to elementary kids.
  9. Are you kidding? I know what I would have been interested in studying...nothing. No, unless you're working with geniuses, you don't let kids decide their own course of study.

    Nope, the best possible learning environment is with your PEERS...your intellectual and gender peers. Kids in segregated schools do better. Put all the A student boys in one school, the A girls in another. Do the same for the B and C kids, each have their own school. The D and F kids...they learn just the bare basics and go off to trade school...they have no academic future...why waste everyone's time and money.
  10. You're both right.

    Ibjamming, right now we DO have classes separated by learning pace and rate, at least that's how it was at my school and i'm pretty sure that's how it is in all high schools. There are, for example, algebra 2 classes in regular and honors level (and in some schools also at the AP or IB level for certain classes), going at different paces for different students

    Palmer, we currently do have flexibility in elective classes, which of course are great and give students a taste of different topics they may be interested in, but i think that having a core, required curriculum and offering a few elective classes works out quite well, because i agree with ibjamming in the thought that high school students aren't mature enough to decide their entire school schedule. Now when it goes on to college, i don't support having required classes, especially at the price many are paying, but that's just getting more off topic

    But what is the answer to OPs question? We can't come up with it, but i definitely think more funding should be put in for finding the answer. The entire education system is broken, no doubt about it.
  11. You're in a good school in the suburbs...I can tell by how you write.

    Try that in the inner city...see where you get.

    See...we've alread segregated ourselves...and it's working. We need to finish the task. Split up the boys and girls too. We each learn differently.

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