Saving Science Class
Much of what our students are learning about science in school bears little resemblance to real science. That is the main theme of this critique of science education by a veteran scientist and former school teacher. The author charges that today's teaching mandate has been taken over by educational specialists, people with little or no understanding of science. They clutter curricula with extraneous material, like engineering and technology, and focus so much attention theorizing over hypotheses and models and categorizing everything, that no time remains for doing science. There is little to entice youngsters to the science classroom today. McGowan emphasizes that the problem is not the teachers but the materials they are obliged to teach. He is especially critical of the widely influential Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This is based upon A Framework for K-12 Science Education, which has been inordinately influenced by educational specialists. This is evident from the esoteric language, the almost exclusive citation of educational publications, and by glaring errors in science. The author urges a rethinking of science education to bring the focus back to conducting real hands-on science in the classroom. This approach was pioneered by the Nuffield Science Teaching Project in the UK, where working scientists acted as resource personnel for teachers designing curricula. Given the catastrophic problems facing planet Earth, scientific literacy has never been more important.