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ToSeek
2003-Apr-03, 05:08 PM
Astronomy: Censored in Science Education (http://www.space.com/searchforlife/seti_devore_astro_030403.html)

I wish I could have taken astronomy instead of chemistry or biology, or perhaps as part of physics. Seems as if it's much too interesting a subject to ignore.

TaeKwonDan
2003-Apr-03, 06:09 PM
One of the advantages of going to private school is that I got that choice. I got to take half a year of Astronomy my sophomore year of high school. It was offered as a science elective. Interesting class, I learned that I wasn't as fit to be an Astronomer as I had hoped, but I still really liked that class.

russ_watters
2003-Apr-03, 08:07 PM
One of the advantages of going to private school is that I got that choice. I got to take half a year of Astronomy my sophomore year of high school. It was offered as a science elective. Interesting class, I learned that I wasn't as fit to be an Astronomer as I had hoped, but I still really liked that class.I took astronomy as an elective in my PUBLIC school. We had a nice planetarium too. :D

TaeKwonDan
2003-Apr-03, 08:15 PM
I took astronomy as an elective in my PUBLIC school. We had a nice planetarium too. :D

Cool, I did make that sound like private school was the only way to do it. But I would stay say your school is probably an exception to the rule. (for all schools really)

Durandal
2003-Apr-03, 09:23 PM
At this point, most public schools have such pathetic science education curriculums that their incompetent teachers would have no business teaching astronomy.

Let's get the creationists and intelligent design people out of public schools first, so we can get back to teaching children the fundamentals of how science actually works before trying to get them on to more advanced concepts in science.

sacrelicious
2003-Apr-03, 09:36 PM
I say we just give into these idiots, then after about fifty years when our society is lagging far behind that of every other industrialised nation, maybe then we'll realize how important it is to take science seriously and not allow the promoters of beautiful fiction to intervene in the teaching and discovery of hard facts.

Vermonter
2003-Apr-03, 10:10 PM
So, what would happen if scientists just gave up and let the Creationists and Intelligent Designers run around unchecked, and possibly letting them do the teaching? The education of this country would drop to a new low, and no new advances in technology would occur, I think. Any dissenters would most likely be persecuted because they didn't go with the status quo...It'd be scary.

darkhunter
2003-Apr-03, 10:16 PM
And it would happen in the schools by the students (based on my high school experience--admittiedly 13+ years ago :oops: )

Peer pressure is a powerful factor (especially with younger people).

As long as there is somewhere where people who want to can learn, there is always hope. It's just getting the word out to them....

Kaptain K
2003-Apr-03, 10:56 PM
...no new advances in technology would occur...
Yes they would, just not in the U.S. The beginnings of this trend are already starting to appear. :cry:

ToSeek
2003-Apr-03, 10:57 PM
I say we just give into these idiots, then after about fifty years when our society is lagging far behind that of every other industrialised nation, maybe then we'll realize how important it is to take science seriously and not allow the promoters of beautiful fiction to intervene in the teaching and discovery of hard facts.

As tempting as your suggestion is the pleasure of saying "I told you so" is insufficient when compared with the suffering that would result.

sacrelicious
2003-Apr-03, 11:13 PM
As tempting as your suggestion is the pleasure of saying "I told you so" is insufficient when compared with the suffering that would result.

the way I see it (based on historical precidents) the pendulum is going to swing that way eventually. right now it's swinging that way slowly, which I think ends up causing greater cumulative siffering, because it takes longer to get the dang pendulum unstuck, and because it makes it easier for the extremist ideas to spread beyond our own country. I think that if if we just let the disease run its course, so to speak, that we'll be done with it faster, and thus with less suffering and oppression. additionally we will have created another great historical precident that will help vaccinate us from this sort of thing for at least another five hundred or so years.

of course i'm not really condoning this, just thought experimenting

Durandal
2003-Apr-04, 12:15 AM
So, what would happen if scientists just gave up and let the Creationists and Intelligent Designers run around unchecked, and possibly letting them do the teaching? The education of this country would drop to a new low, and no new advances in technology would occur, I think. Any dissenters would most likely be persecuted because they didn't go with the status quo...It'd be scary.

I kind of like this idea. We should set up a school in a nice neighborhood in which creationism is taught as science, by creationists. Why not let them teach revisionist history about how noble the South was in the Civil War, too. What the heck, ya know?

Anyway, let some kids go through this school and then let them take a standardized test. We'll see how their scores compare with the rest of the nation's in science. Or we could quiz random students on what the difference between scientific theory and law is.

ljbrs
2003-Apr-04, 02:30 AM
I say we just give into these idiots, then after about fifty years when our society is lagging far behind that of every other industrialised nation, maybe then we'll realize how important it is to take science seriously and not allow the promoters of beautiful fiction to intervene in the teaching and discovery of hard facts.

My country (USA) is already ranked down at the level of the undeveloped countries when it comes to science teaching in public schools, so I do not know how much farther we can go down than that. We have already given into the idiots and even if the courts uphold science teaching in the public schools in the USA, I doubt if anything will come of it. The creationists and the Intelligent Design advocates somehow will find a way to undo scientific education if they are given the chance.

ljbrs :cry: :evil: :(

Colt
2003-Apr-04, 04:47 AM
I am taking Astronomy right now, been since the beginning of the year. It is a very interesting class but most of the people in it are idiots so it can become annoying when you are the only one actually interested in the class. And the teacher likes Star Trek. :D

One of my greatest fears perhaps is that a group like ARM or the people in Ben Bova's books will take control and destroy modern technology as we know it. I am not sure if I could live in a world like that. Science should be the ruling religion in schools since it has no culture, no religion, no fanatics (at least ones that blow up school buses for it), and no misconceived perceptions of the world around it. It is applicable to every religion not just one's views. I don't mean to offend anyone by this, sorry if I have.

Astronomy forever! -Colt

beskeptical
2003-Apr-04, 10:12 AM
All through elementary school I wondered about my son's science ed. Now in 8th grade, though, he has a biology class that I'm actually impressed with. It hasn't been consistent through the years but there is a ray of hope.

Reacher
2003-Apr-04, 07:23 PM
i agree. things have gotten a little out of hand. last week, we "learned" the structure of an atom. i couldnt beleive it! didnt we know this from year 6/7? when i asked the teacher why this was occuring, several students admitted to not having a grasp of it, and one didnt know the difference between an atom and a cell! im not saying that im overly smart, or that theyre overly stupid, but, if i know something, and ive done the same as they have, i cant see why they dont.
my school lacks an astronomy class, and because i do aeronautics, i have to take two aero courses, meteorolgy, navigation(though i think this will be covered in an aero course - i hope!!), plus mandatory phisics, maths and english, i doubt i could anyway. its a sad thing.

tvelocity
2003-Apr-04, 11:25 PM
my school lacks an astronomy class, and because i do aeronautics, i have to take two aero courses, meteorolgy, navigation(though i think this will be covered in an aero course - i hope!!),

Are you working on a pilot's license? Good for you if you are.

I graduated high school in 1991 and have no kids so I am somewhat out of touch with the state of public education. I hope it isn't as bad as everyone says. I like to think that the nation with the world's best colleges can at least educate its youth properly.

carolyn
2003-Apr-05, 06:59 AM
I think you will find that The UK has the 2 best colleges :lol:

kilopi
2003-Apr-05, 07:01 AM
Tibet. But they only graduate one student.

carolyn
2003-Apr-05, 07:49 AM
? :o

tvelocity
2003-Apr-05, 10:05 AM
I assume you are referring to Oxford and Cambridge? Hard to argue with you there. But what's with the college in Tibet?

Glom
2003-Apr-05, 10:54 AM
The situation isn't looking too clever in the British State Education system at the moment either. Admittedly, we don't really have a problem with creationists as such, but our problem comes the exam boards. One delightful product of Maggie's premiership was everything got privatised. That included the institutions that run public examinations. Our Physics board, Edexcel, has got this policy that A-level (years 12-13) physics should contain as little maths as possible. All the maths involved was done at Key Stage 3 (years 7-9).

There was a high number of students opting for Physics at AS level (year 12), but when it came to choosing the A2 level (year 13) subjects, which are the AS subjects minus one subject that gets dropped, many chose to drop Physics. I was surprised by some of those who actually did drop it, but the problem is that the Physics course contains so little of actual value, it's downright tedious.

They're trying to make the subject seem more appealing to non-Physicsy people by taking out the hardcore Physics but in the process, they alienate those who do like it.

BTW, Oxbridge think they're so hot. There's nothing wrong with the University of Birmingham. They worked on Ulysses and all sorts of great astronomical stuff. So there. I don't see Oxbridge doing any of that. 8)

tvelocity
2003-Apr-05, 11:53 AM
But don't even private institutions have to meet state standards? That's the way it is in the U.S., although admittedly the standards are a subject of constant controversy, and private schools tend to offer higher quality education.

carolyn
2003-Apr-05, 12:19 PM
Not really they just get well motivated parents. After all if you were spending £10.000 per term on your childs ed you would make sure they did well to would you not? :wink:

I agree with everything said about A levels in UK to. The science teachers at the school I teach in hate teaching that part of the curiculum at the moment. Talking about it on friday in fact. The new problem in UK at the moment is that schools can not get the teachers iether, pay is to bad! but don't start me on that topic................. :roll:

Glom
2003-Apr-05, 01:33 PM
But don't even private institutions have to meet state standards?

They obviously have to meet standards, but standards are relative. The New Labour government loves to make targets. (It has been said that the reason for introducing the AS levels a couple of years ago, despite justifiable complaints about overpressuring students, was so the government could have another set of statistics to show off in Commons debates to show how well they're doing.) They want to get a certain proportion of students getting A's and B's etc. Of course, since they control the standards by which students get awarded grades, they can simply make the exams easier.

In times prior, grading was awarded by percentile. The top few percent of students would get A's, the next B's, etc. Now, that has been changed to allow greater percentages of students to get higher grades, so the government can look like it's doing a good job with the education system.

Of course, this sparks huge debate about exams getting easier. The material in Physics is unmistakably getting easier, but that doesn't make the exams any easier. The government's pressure to get as many students as possible going to university and things like that mean that there is more pressure on students at these times than ever before. The second problem is not just that the material is dumbing down, but that the people writing and marking these exams seem to not know anything about what they're marking. In Chemistry, which course is still fairly meaty and okay, I was given advice by my teacher to not use the formula I derived for the pH of a base because the examiner wouldn't know what I was talking about. Physics is even worse. The end result is that most of the time, the exams are incomprehensible.

Edexcel is a particular problem because they are well known for being sloppy. They frequently make glaring mistakes in the writing of exams, they have had security breaches by allowing exams onto the street prior to their date and there was an occasion when the wrong papers were sent to a school. There slogan is "Edexcel: The right choice." We adapted that to say, "Edexcel: The right choice... The wrong paper."

nebularain
2003-Apr-05, 03:10 PM
What's with blaming the creationist and ID'ers for the dumbing down of science? Where I live, these two beliefs are not taught at all in the science classes. Science curriculum in my county and in my state make no mention of teaching these. Any one of you can look into your county and state's education standards and see what they are promoting to be taught. These two beliefs (except maybe a few in the "Bible Belt"), I doubt, could be found in the curriculum. I know you are frustrated with these beliefs, but I honestly believe you are barking up the wrong tree here.

A point to ponder. I was watching a video documentary in my science methods education class. They had interviewed both 4th graders and MIT graduates on what they knew about photosynthesis. Actually, they did not use the word photosynthesis, but they did ask how a seed builds material to become a tree. Where does the mass come from? The 4th graders attributed soil, sun, and water to plant growth. Unfortunately, the MIT graduates claimed the same thing! :-? When the interviewer asked one young man what he would say if he were told that the majority of the mass of the tree came from the CO2 in the atmosphere, he said that the idea was ridiculous. Seriously - he stated quite adamantly that "Carbon is not a major building block for molecular structures, from what I know of biochemistry." :o :lol: :cry: Another young woman said in answer to the same question about CO2, "That's disturbing." :roll:

Ummm ... who's to blame here?

FP
2003-Apr-05, 03:46 PM
The current state of public education has improved in some aspects. My teenaged sons have available two years of biology, chemistry and physics. At my high school some twen... er..uh.. many years ago only one year of each was offered. They can take calculus and college level English which will allow them to test out of freshman courses and move on to the good stuff. This is at a school with only 400 students!

However, I agree that education has become too focused. The state of general knowledge seems to be decreasing as students want to narrow their fields of learning earlier and earlier.

I don't care if my sons can parse than as mentioned in the 1895 "test" mentioned in another thread, but they should be aware of Shakespeare, Twain, the Yanamamo, supply and demand, etc.

I think the most important thing our educational system can acheive is to instill a thirst for knowledge that will last a lifetime.

"Specialization is for insects." R. A. Heinlein

fixed spelling -- must have the g99 virus

beskeptical
2003-Apr-06, 05:49 AM
What's with blaming the creationist and ID'ers for the dumbing down of science?

You are absolutely right that there are many reasons for the poor state of science education in American schools, (I can't speak for other countries). Bible literalists certainly have tried a time or two to affect the process of science. I don't see them as having the largest impact by any means.

beskeptical
2003-Apr-06, 05:56 AM
I think the most important thing our educational system can acheive is to instill a thirst for knowledge that will last a lifetime.

"Specialization is for insects." R. A. Heinlein


A thirst for knowledge, but also the skills to obtain knowledge are already necessities for a successful life.

But lets not be too hard on specialization. Insects are very successful.

Actually, as a specilaist who prides myself in knowing a little about a lot as well as a lot about a little, the two are not mutually exclusive.

carolyn
2003-Apr-06, 06:39 AM
All very true Glom

Which is why I changed to AQA for my pupils.

'Actually, as a specilaist who prides myself in knowing a little about a lot as well as a lot about a little, the two are not mutually exclusive.'

absolutly right, couldn't have said it better my self :D

And one other thing to remember is that (in the uk anyway) education does not finish when you leave school, there are now so many opportunities to carry on with education, it boggles your mind. I know that it boggles the minds of my students :wink: anything you wish to learn about you can, so it is up to the student, if you need to re sit you can, if you want to change direction you can. the door is never closed I think THAT is wonderful. So what ever the short comings of schools and the knowledge they impart, (and please be assured, we DO try our best )
opportunaties are always there to extend or expand knowledge.

JS Princeton
2003-Apr-06, 06:55 AM
Ummm ... who's to blame here?

I can answer that one: specificity. By narrowing focus of subject materials, people become blinded. The person interviewed probably studied mechanical engineering or some subject field that required little or no knowledge of biology. This is quite unfortunate, really, but the "general knowledge" component of education that's supposed to be employed in grade school and the early stages of college is not treated as being as important as technical education in your field of choice.

The same problem is seen here at Princeton. Math and physics phobia run rampant throughout the undergraduates who major in humanities. The requirements keep getting stricter as to general distribution (now it's two science classes and one mathematics class), but they aren't nearly what I think they should be. The mathematical and scientific illiteracy of the undergraduates here never ceases to amaze me, but this definitely is not something that is caused by the university. The roots of this can almost certainly be traced back to grade school.

The problem that creationism poses is that it makes administrators and policy makers think twice. Actually, administration and policy makers are some of the worse things that have ever happened to education (incompetency runs rampant in their ranks). In order to not "rock the boat", the specifics of evolution tend to be downplayed. It's not that creationism is taught, it's that creationism is entertained as being worth considering when drafting education standards. It just simply speaks to a general lack of education by the public. That an American President could come out saying he had "doubts" about evolution is apalling. I think the current one has expressed misgivings about evolution too. It's just sad.

Why does Alabama have a "disclaimer" in their biology textbooks? Why did the Kansas School Board vote down the evolution and Big Bang requirements? The first step in the disinformation game is to remove education. Once people are uninformed about the subject, then the creationists can step in and begin to weave their web of lies. It's that simple.

carolyn
2003-Apr-06, 07:08 AM
You see now the bizzar problem that you describe above we do not have. The pros and cons of both options are talked about.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-06, 09:30 PM
I started out teaching Earth Science. Every time I would get to the astronomy unit, I would get bombarded with questions. Students love the subject. So I started an astronomy program at our school. After 6 years I've built up a program in which over 40 students a year sign up for the class.

Of course there are those short-sighted people that make decisions out there. I have over 40 students signed up for next year but a ridiculous schedule has been put together that cuts the program entirely. The reason is even more ridiculous. This year I'm teaching 5 courses --> chemistry, Astronomy, environmental science, Science Research, and a review period for students that have failed Earth Science. But somehow my dept. chair thinks it is equitable that next years schedule looks like this: 3 other members of my department (including herself) teach 1 course while the remaining 4 of us teach 3+ courses each. So as a result of the schedule that has been put together for next year there just doesn't seem to be room for astronomy.

That will be changing tomorrow. I've built up considerable capital within my district and now I'm about to use it to keep the astronomy program. I've been working on the matter during the last few weeks and the chair is going to find her credibility on the line tomorrow. Her choice will be keep her short sighted schedule with her cushy one prep for herself or suck it up and take on an additional prep so that the courses can be equitably distributed and the astronomy course inserted back in the schedule.

This example illustrates another aspect of the problem of astronomy education in public schools. Those of us that do start such programs have to fight hard to keep them - not because of lack of student enrollment, but because such classes are seen as unnecessary extras by those that have control over what is offered.

kilopi
2003-Apr-06, 10:55 PM
This example illustrates another aspect of the problem of astronomy education in public schools. Those of us that do start such programs have to fight hard to keep them - not because of lack of student enrollment, but because such classes are seen as unnecessary extras by those that have control over what is offered.
I think we have the same problem in the USA with fashion design. High schools just can't get behind it, and the USA suffers in the international market.

Seriously, make sure and report back tomorrow. I for one would like to know what happens. Good luck.

beskeptical
2003-Apr-07, 09:49 AM
You see now the bizzar problem that you describe above we do not have. The pros and cons of both options are talked about.

? Not sure what you mean here ?

Pros and cons of creationism? Well why not add the pros and cons of all creation stories?

If you wanted to present the unanswered questions about the evidence that would be science. But if you want to hold back the scientific strength of the evidence lest it threaten a long held religious belief, that isn't science.

Donnie B.
2003-Apr-07, 02:27 PM
What's with blaming the creationist and ID'ers for the dumbing down of science? Where I live, these two beliefs are not taught at all in the science classes. Science curriculum in my county and in my state make no mention of teaching these. Any one of you can look into your county and state's education standards and see what they are promoting to be taught. These two beliefs (except maybe a few in the "Bible Belt"), I doubt, could be found in the curriculum. I know you are frustrated with these beliefs, but I honestly believe you are barking up the wrong tree here.
Neb, while I agree that there are other problems with American education besides the creationist influence, I think you're underplaying this problem.

First, there are no curricula in which creationism is taught explicitly, because the Supreme Court has banned such teaching. That doesn't mean that some individual teachers don't slip the message in anyway, especially in the "Bible Belt" schools you mentioned; but that's a relatively small matter.

ID is a relatively new approach, and its proponents are still trying to get it taught as science. Do a Google search on "Ohio Intelligent Design" for a current, ongoing battle.

But beyond the direct encroachment of these ideas on the classroom, the fundamentalists have had a more widespread and subtle effect. Few textbooks for public schools emphasize evolution, despite its centrality to modern biology. This is because certain influential school districts (notably the Texas state authority, which selects all textbooks in that state) have shown great reluctance (or out and out refusal) to buy texts that do stress evolution. Textbook publishers can't afford to risk the loss of sales that would result from a text that was perceived to be too "pro-evolution", so they never get published at all. And with no evolution in the textbook, there's no evolution in the classroom.

So even without being an explicit part of the curriculum, creationist ideas affect what's taught (and not taught) in American public schools.

RED
2003-Apr-07, 03:17 PM
Has anyone seen the interview of Harvard graduates being asked to explain the changes of season. Almost Everyone of them wrongly attributes it to earth-sun proximity, so lets not put all blame on the public education system

Kaptain K
2003-Apr-07, 04:31 PM
Has anyone seen the interview of Harvard graduates being asked to explain the changes of season. Almost Everyone of them wrongly attributes it to earth-sun proximity, so lets not put all blame on the public education system

Unless all of the Hahvahd graduates went to private schools, then the seeds of their ignorance were planted in the public education system. :cry:

RED
2003-Apr-07, 05:00 PM
I was reffering to Harvard being private institution.

ljbrs
2003-Apr-07, 05:23 PM
JS Princeton:


The same problem is seen here at Princeton. Math and physics phobia run rampant throughout the undergraduates who major in humanities. The requirements keep getting stricter as to general distribution (now it's two science classes and one mathematics class), but they aren't nearly what I think they should be. The mathematical and scientific illiteracy of the undergraduates here never ceases to amaze me, but this definitely is not something that is caused by the university. The roots of this can almost certainly be traced back to grade school.

Perhaps the same could be said about the understanding of the Humanities by most science majors. (On the other hand, Einstein played the violin, at least adequately!)

In a real education, a broad knowledge is a prerequesite for further knowledge. I earned an M.A. in Humanities at university (and have spent many years studying at music conservatories, as well as studying science). Humanities may be a non-work-permit degree, but for later appreciation of life outside of the workplace, it has no equal. I am a subscriber to our world-class symphony, an attendee at physics (and other science) lectures, and a participant in my wonderful astronomy club, etc. I must have all of them as a part of my total education. Luckily, I came from a scientific and musical family (going back many generations), so I had the best of all worlds, even as a female. Although I took science and calculus at university, the arts were always included. Majoring in Humanities for my M.A. degree kept me away from some of the male chauvinistic behavior which was always present in the physical and astronomical sciences at the time. Things have improved in both in recent years (but too late for me, never having been a masochist).

ljbrs :D

Kaptain K
2003-Apr-07, 05:25 PM
I was reffering to Harvard being private institution.
I knew that. What I was saying is that Harvard was not responsible for 100% of their education. They didn't get there until after they went through elementary, middle and high school. Unless they only attended private schools, the public education system is, at least, partly responsible for their ignorance. :roll:

kilopi
2003-Apr-07, 06:08 PM
I was reffering to Harvard being private institution.
I knew that. What I was saying is that Harvard was not responsible for 100% of their education. They didn't get there until after they went through elementary, middle and high school. Unless they only attended private schools, the public education system is, at least, partly responsible for their ignorance.
What do you suppose is the percentage of Harvard graduates that went to public school? I just googled and found a couple pages that seem to say that it's in the 50 to 60 percent range. So, RED's point seems valid. This isn't a public school vs. private school issue.

For the record, I've found just as many teachers in private schools with scientific misconceptions as I have in public schools. Hey, where do you think private schools get their teachers anyway? :)

beskeptical
2003-Apr-07, 09:10 PM
Has anyone seen the interview of Harvard graduates being asked to explain the changes of season. Almost Everyone of them wrongly attributes it to earth-sun proximity, so lets not put all blame on the public education system

I've seen that interview, Jay Leno's 'Jaywalking' which shows the same result, and, will never forget the teacher interviewed opposing mandatory teacher testing who said, "We are articulated...." instead of articulate.

That's why I agree with Nebula. It cannot be blamed solely on religious opposition to scientific advance.

I think there is a fundamental underlying problem. Schools do not teach how to evaluate evidence. People go merrily along interpreting the world from false premises. Get closer to a heat source and it's warmer, voila you have summer by getting closer to the Sun. False premise: getting closer to a heat source is the only way to get warmer. If we spent more time helping kids to think in much broader terms, to see the bigger picture, they would figure out how the seasons occur by their own investigations.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-07, 09:48 PM
Kilopi wrote: Seriously, make sure and report back tomorrow. I for one would like to know what happens. Good luck.

Well, I had a successful meeting with my department. Everyone agrees that the astronomy program should not be dropped. But next comes a thick layer of concrete - otherwise known as the building Principal. Unfortunately, depending upon the day and what he had for breakfast, you never know whether you'll be able to get through to him with a light tap from a hammer or if you'll need to break out the 5000 lb bunkerbuster.

ljbrs
2003-Apr-07, 10:05 PM
beskeptical:


. If we spent more time helping kids to think in much broader terms, to see the bigger picture, they would figure out how the seasons occur by their own investigations.


Sometimes it is best to show the simplest idea for easier understanding and later to become more explicit about the differences. Then, later, learning about the actual position of the Earth relative to the Sun during summer and winter in either hemisphere becomes more interesting, if only for the simple reason that, temporarily, it is opposite to a simplistic way of thinking.

The basic problem for students is that they never came across a decent astronomy course. Then again, astronomy is one of the more complicated of the sciences and should not be the first to be taught. The same can be said for biology. Perhaps special planetarium programs could be a simple method for teaching such ideas as the hemisphere position of Earth with respect to the Sun in summer and in winter. Physicist Leon Lederman often spoke (in lectures I have attended) that physics should be the first science to be taught (because of its simplicity) and biology perhaps the last. I would put astronomy and cosmology somewhere alongside biology as being basically more difficult than physics to comprehend. Of course, I am not a scientist, but only a science enthusiast, so I should caution the reader about that.

ljbrs :lol:

dgruss23
2003-Apr-07, 10:19 PM
beskeptical wrote: I think there is a fundamental underlying problem. Schools do not teach how to evaluate evidence. People go merrily along interpreting the world from false premises. Get closer to a heat source and it's warmer, voila you have summer by getting closer to the Sun. False premise: getting closer to a heat source is the only way to get warmer. If we spent more time helping kids to think in much broader terms, to see the bigger picture, they would figure out how the seasons occur by their own investigations.

I wish that was all there is to the problem. You have at least four groups of people that are integral influences on student learning - teachers, administrators, peers, and parents. There are excellent and lousy examples among each of the groups.

Some teachers do an outstanding job of teaching students to evaluate evidence, but many do not. Some parents are excellent at motivating their children to take school work seriously. Others get upset if too much homework interferes with the sports schedule. I've been on the phone with parents that have asked ME for advice on how to control their child. I've sat in meetings with parents that will find an excuse for almost any student behavior. Here's a classic: After a student threatened to come to my house with a "Magnum" and make some noise if he didn't pass the test, the parent said: "He's like a five year old throwing a tantrum. He's never done anything that would make me think he would seriously hurt somebody. Well, I have had to dodge a few dinner plates, but nothing serious." That is no exaggeration! Needless to say that even the simplest evidence in favor of evolutionary theory is lost on students like this.

Honestly, the only way significant progress in science education will be made is a combination of good teaching, good parenting, and good adminstrating.

nebularain
2003-Apr-08, 03:48 PM
Good point, dgruss!

beskeptical
2003-Apr-10, 11:21 AM
beskeptical wrote: I think there is a fundamental underlying problem. Schools do not teach how to evaluate evidence. .......If we spent more time helping kids to think in much broader terms, to see the bigger picture, they would figure out how the seasons occur by their own investigations.

I wish that was all there is to the problem. You have at least four groups of people that are integral influences on student learning - teachers, administrators, peers, and parents.

Yes, I didn't mean to limit the blame and/or solution to schools. There is a lot of research about learning that doesn't get put into practice because of the politics between schools and parents also.

But I still see a basic mistake repeated over and over by teachers of all sorts whether it be parents or schools or on the job training. We think all we have to do is impart knowledge. We assess if that knowledge was imparted by tests. But we rarely evaluate if the learner actually learned.

I saw one example where college students were taught about electrical circuits. They were tested on the material. Then they were shown a diagram and asked what would happen if a particular change was made to the circuit. It turned out there was no correlation between test scores and being able to predict the outcome of the circuit modification. In other words they were learning how to take the tests but not how electrical circuits worked.

With all the bad information available from the people around us, from the net and from the news, etc., I think it's more important than ever to look at what needs to be done besides 'impart knowledge'. You're right that it isn't a simple answer of changing the schools. It's a very big problem but you have to start somewhere.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-10, 10:15 PM
To follow-up on my earlier comments about trying to save the astronomy program I've been running for the last 6 years in my district, it turns out I'm about to be a victim of my own success. Last year, the environmental science course declined from the three sections we used to have down to only one section. So I told the principal last spring that I'd take over the environmental section AND that I would revive the program. Well it turns out I was very successful at renewing the program as the enrollment has doubled for next year, but now the Principal needs to cut a section of something in science and for some thickheaded reason he is fixated on making that the astronomy program. :evil:

I'm still working on it - arguing now that since it is in general agreement that some students must be denied access to taking a science course they want to take, that perhaps we should eliminate that extra section of environmental science since the astronomy program is something that makes our district stand out. The greatest irony is that even the environmental science class will not be part of my schedule next year. :roll:

So I start a very successful astronomy program and they decide to cut it. I revive an environmental science program that was in intensive care and they take that away too. I also started a Science Research program and that is getting cut too. Instead, they slip into my schedule a dumping ground course that somebody else started for students that can't tell the difference between an inch and a centimeter. I have no problem with trying to lift up the struggling students, but why must the advanced students always be denied their opportunities to be challenged?

There's this "leave no child behind" idea out there. What about the "miss no opportunity to inspire the child" idea? Astronomy inspires students every time its discussed. Sorry about the rant.

nebularain
2003-Apr-11, 03:12 AM
First, let me say :evil: :evil: :evil: !!!

With that out of the way, let me say this just means you are going to have to get creative and somehow fit astronomy topics into the program. It can be done, I am sure. :hopeful: :hopeful:

dgruss23
2003-Apr-11, 01:49 PM
Nebularain wrote: First, let me say !!!

With that out of the way, let me say this just means you are going to have to get creative and
somehow fit astronomy topics into the program. It can be done, I am sure. :hopeful: :hopeful:

Thanks for the moral support!! :) It turns out that astronomy simply will not be put into the schedule next year. The preference of the administrators is that students take environmental science for a full credit of science rather than the marine biology/astronomy combination that some students have selected. I was told the astronomy course is "fluff" in the student schedules (30-40 students worth of fluff apparently). Ok, well I did all I could.

I do mix in the astronomy into the environmental science as much as possible (Earth history and formation in particular, but also the role of the Sun in long term Earth climate).


[/quote]

kilopi
2003-Apr-11, 03:40 PM
From my limited experience with a few school systems, astronomy is considered a fluffier science. For instance, my daughter's high school has an astronomy club and offers a trimester of astronomy. The astronomy class is mostly upperclass students who need science credits to graduate, and don't have strong science backgrounds. The students in the astronomy club don't take the astronomy class--in fact, they help out at the night sessions.

Astronomy could be a very serious (non-fluffy) class, but as such it's probably considered too specialized for science at the high school level. Kinda like microbiology or geophysics would be.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-11, 04:22 PM
Reply to Kilopi:

I can't speak for astronomy programs at other schools, but my course is not "fluff". I think the Principal meant "fluff" in the sense of an extra that isn't needed and not as a judgement on the level of rigor in the course.

One difficulty I've had with the program is to balance some rigor with the wide range of ability levels of the students that take the course. The one common denominator is that most of them are there because they want to be there, but some of them have weak math/science skills.

But I still challenge them. We do calculations with Wein's law, calculate stellar Flux and luminosities. I have them examine stellar spectra from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. I keep them updated on the most recent research results relevant to topics we touch upon in the class. For example, my students learned about the L and T class stars as soon as those results were published in 1999. But overall I have to keep the course mostly descriptive and conceptual or the heavy math will drive down enrollment - which apparently will no longer be an issue.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-11, 04:29 PM
Everything I've gone through brings us back to the topic of this thread -the state of astronomy education in schools. It seems that the only way to increase consistent exposure of students to astronomy will be on the state curriculum level.

I have an article somewhere that was published in astronomy about 10-15 years ago and it described how in the late 1800's it was decided that high school students should take physics, chem, geology, biology, but not astronomy as preparation for college (sorry I can't think of the exact issue off the top of my head). We've been living with that mindset ever since and it will require actual mandated curriculum changes to reverse the current trend because as it stands astronomy programs are seen as extras in the curriculum.

kilopi
2003-Apr-11, 04:46 PM
I have an article somewhere that was published in astronomy about 10-15 years ago and it described how in the late 1800's it was decided that high school students should take physics, chem, geology, biology, but not astronomy as preparation for college
I can't think of any schools that offer geology, except under the broader category of Earth Science. But each of those is hard to argue with as necessary to a good foundation in science. It looks like they're figuring one hard science per year.

It'd be nice to do serious astronomy at the high school level, but same with micro or geophysics, as I said. There are students who do.

ljbrs
2003-Apr-12, 01:27 AM
I personally believe that it is up to the parent/parents to see to it that their child gets an education. If you wait for the school to educate your child/children, it may be too late to make up for the bad teaching, if such is present. Realize that schools are not able to pay for the best teachers in science, because the best ones are working in higher-paying jobs.

If you do not feel like or are unable to afford books, there are public libraries. There are university libraries if you want a better quality. You, yourself, could learn more about astronomy and see to it that your children are well informed. The same should be done in all topics which are important to you.

Oh, well, doing it all at home is quite a task, but it pays off.

ljbrs :D

dgruss23
2003-Apr-12, 02:43 PM
ljbrs wrote: I personally believe that it is up to the parent/parents to see to it that their child gets an education. If you wait for the school to educate your child/children, it may be too late to make up for the bad teaching, if such is present.

I agree 100% with this statement. The most important thing a parent can do is read to their child and teach them how to read. Answer their questions with real explanations not overly dumbed down answers. I have an eight year old with a 9th grade reading level… and she comprehends too. My daughter currently in kindergarten was reading at the age of 4. This is what is possible when parents create an environment in which children see the value in reading and learning – and it will help them tremendously when they are in school to make the most of both good and bad teaching.

As a teacher I will not deny that there are bad teachers out there that do not belong in a classroom, but the following statement concerns me (My apologies if I’m misinterpreting here and I don’t take the statement personally, but I do disagree and I’m going to write a long response because others may think this way even if its not what you meant):



ljbrs wrote: Realize that schools are not able to pay for the best teachers in science, because the best ones are working in higher-paying jobs.

First, you have to distinguish between level of training, level of knowledge, and teaching ability. As I read this statement, I take it to mean that the “best teachers” are necessarily the most highly trained science people – who because they are so great take high paying jobs rather than share their wisdom in the classroom. That is not how you define a good teacher. Should teachers be knowledgeable in their subject – of course and the more knowledgeable the better. If you take the most knowledgeable people and pay them the highest salaries to be teachers you will not necessarily get the best teaching. A person must know how to effectively impart that knowledge to a classroom of typically 25 students – and then challenge them to think, work with, and learn how to use that knowledge. In short, a great teacher not only knows the subject, but also knows how to relate to students. The former part of that equation does not guarantee the presence of the latter.

Second, University professors as an almost universal rule have more knowledge of the subjects than the high school teachers. Does that mean ALL university instructors are great? Of course not. I remember the first college class I walked into as a freshman was an 8:00 Calculus class. In walked the best teacher I’ve ever had. We learned, we laughed, we were challenged. He was an amazing teacher. The next semester I took a political science class with one of the worst instructors I’ve ever seen on any level of teaching. It took two lectures to figure out that his “lecture” was a straight reading from the textbook chapters. No discussion, no analysis of any kind. People stopped reading the assignments and simply sat in class with a highlighter pen outlining the paragraphs he read word for word from the book. You could get in A in that class if you simply memorized those paragraphs as close to verbatim as possible and regurgitated them onto the test paper.

Third, you have to remember that teaching is a chosen profession. Most teachers I know are not people who couldn’t find a job doing something that pays more money and thus decided to settle for teaching. I knew in 8th grade that I wanted to teach high school science. I could be a university professor right now if I wanted, but I chose a different path – a decision not favored by that calculus professor I mentioned. I received an award at my university as the most outstanding student in the physical sciences and the wife of that professor walked up to me after I received the award and said: “You should get your PhD. Don’t waste your talents on high school students.”

Well I’ve been nominated for awards 3 times in 9 years by my high school students. I’m told each year by numerous students that I’m a great teacher, that they have to work harder and learn more in my class than any other class, and every year I get numerous requests for letters of recommendation for their college applications. I just had a former student visit me yesterday and he thanked me for pushing him to pass chemistry. He said the hard work is paying off in college. I’m not looking for accolades or trying to brag here, but the point is I could be doing something else – anything I want. But this is what I chose to do and while I’m not perfect and I always seek to improve, I know I’m good at what I do. My wife’s brother is headed down the same path. He’s brilliant but he really wants to work with students and is in the education program at his university.

You also might take a look at the March-April 2003 American Scientist. There is a nice article in there about undergraduate research. Early on it notes that many college faculty view undergraduate education as “an unwanted and tedious obligation neither intellectually rewarding nor important.” That is not an indictment of all college professors, but it illustrates that poor teaching exists on all levels – independent of level of training and knowledge-base.

Finally, you cannot ignore the fact that colleges with teacher training programs must take on part of the blame for poor teaching that does exist. Their job is to make sure that students with education degrees are actually prepared and qualified to teach. With the exception of educational psychology classes, I cannot think of one thing that I learned in undergraduate or graduate college education classes that helped me with my teaching. Student teaching and then actual teaching were where I learned how to teach – and I did have an outstanding college student teaching advisor that gave me excellent advice on interviewing. Ironically, the two worst professors I ever had at college - every bit as bad as that political science professor – were my undergraduate and graduate courses on “Science teaching methods”. So if there is concern about the performance of public schools, university education programs need to become part of the solution.

nebularain
2003-Apr-12, 07:44 PM
One thing that gets me is in one of my education classes, the teacher is telling me I need to separate "what is important" for the students to know Ns what is "not important." The idea being to weed out the "not important." So, what exactly is "not important?" :o

Klausnh
2003-Apr-12, 08:13 PM
Dgruss23:
Your post above is exactly on target. I am not a teacher, but my wife is. We’ve discussed your points many times. In NH, as I believe in other states, the new idea is to rate the teachers on what you know, not on how well they teach. That strategy will not improve our schools. The home environment is the most important part of an education. My wife has had students that have difficulty learning, but with parental support, have done very well. She has also had very bright students that, with no parental support, have learned little in school. Parents’ attitude towards learning is also important. Parents must value education and intelligence and pass that value onto their children.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-12, 11:28 PM
Nebularain wrote: One thing that gets me is in one of my education classes, the teacher is telling me I need to separate "what is important" for the students to know Ns what is "not important." The idea being to weed out the "not important." So, what exactly is "not important?"

I'm not sure if this is what your teacher meant, but one of the basics of curriculum construction (whether we talk about an entire course or a single unit) is to identify the core concepts/skills that the students should learn. In that sense knowledge that is "less important" or "weed" knowledge would be facts/concepts that are not necessary to teach the main goals or required concepts/skills.

Here's a recent example I've encountered. I teach in NY state and we give state "Regents" exams at the end of each year. The last few years the state science (and all other subjects too) have been revised as part of an effort to get all students into the Regents courses which are supposed to be rigorous courses for the college bound. The only way to structure the courses so that students not bound for college have a hope of passing the state exams is to lower the difficulty level.

So here was a choice I was faced with the new state chemistry curriculum. They decided that the quantum mechanical model of the atom would no longer be tested - say goodbye to s,p,d,f orbitals and electron configurations - NYS considers that "weed" knowledge. Take sodium's electron configuration 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s1. That is what we used to teach. Now they've replaced that configuration with 2-8-1.

Well I still teach the s,p,d,f etc. because it is not "weed" knowledge, it is core knowledge that is needed to understand bonding and the structure of the periodic table. Now another concept they tossed out is the Bronsted-Lowry theory of acids/bases. This one - mainly due to time constraints - I've left off because the basics of neutralization reactions, dissociation, and acid/base behavior can be grasped as long as the students understand the Arrhenius theory of acids and bases. So in this case the Bronsted-Lowry theory could be considered "not important" to the goals of the acid/base unit - although I always enjoyed teaching the conjugate acid-base pairs.

Does this sound like the kind of thing your professor was referring too?

ljbrs
2003-Apr-12, 11:45 PM
As a teacher I will not deny that there are bad teachers out there that do not belong in a classroom, but the following statement concerns me (My apologies if I’m misinterpreting here and I don’t take the statement personally, but I do disagree and I’m going to write a long response because others may think this way even if its not what you meant):




ljbrs wrote: Realize that schools are not able to pay for the best teachers in science, because the best ones are working in higher-paying jobs.


Of course. However, it is true that public schools lack the funds to hire professional scientists or adequately-trained science teachers. Those excellent teachers who teach science in public schools do it because of their love of teaching and not for the money. But, obviously, many of the teachers come from other non-scientific disciplines and are placed in areas where their expertise leaves much to be desired. On the other hand, there are excellent teachers who, regardless of their science education, have kept up with science and who can probably be excellent (or at least creditable) representatives of science in public school classrooms. Private schools, on the other hand, often have the funds (endowments) for such extras. I give great credit to the people who give of their time to teaching science for unsatisfactory pay.

ljbrs :oops:

dgruss23
2003-Apr-13, 01:00 AM
However, it is true that public schools lack the funds to hire professional scientists

You're certainly right. One of the problems is that school budgets are one of the few times people get a chance to say "yes" or "no" to a specific tax increase. If people were just as concerned about taxes when it came time to vote for members of congress, the school tax votes might not be such a big deal. The interesting question is this - What fraction of people that have chosen research science as a career would be willing to pursue a high school teaching career if the pay was higher?



or adequately-trained science teachers.

If a teacher is inadequately trained for a teaching position in a classroom that can only mean one of two things. Either the teacher is being asked to teach a class that he/she was not certified to teach or the university that trained the teacher failed in its task by not having an adequate teacher training program - or by making the standards for passing that program too weak. What do you consider "adequately trained"?



Those excellent teachers who teach science in public schools do it because of their love of teaching and not for the money.

This is why I don't believe money is the answer to any concerns about poor teaching. Would I love a larger paycheck - definitely, but I knew going into teaching that I would earn enough to be comfortable but not extravagant. The professional scientists you're referring to chose that career because research is what they love (theoretically :D ). Would a person that's love is analyzing quasar spectra really want to spend their time from 7:30 to 3:30 each day working with students that do not yet have the cognitive skills to undertand the basic physics behind the formation of spectral lines? I suspect that most would not - if that was their passion then they would be teaching high school students.





But, obviously, many of the teachers come from other non-scientific disciplines and are placed in areas where their expertise leaves much to be desired. On the other hand, there are excellent teachers who, regardless of their science education, have kept up with science and who can probably be excellent (or at least creditable) representatives of science in public school classrooms.

All states should pass laws that require certifications to teach the subjects a teacher is asked to teach. New York has that, but I can't speak for the other states.


Private schools, on the other hand, often have the funds (endowments) for such extras. I give great credit to the people who give of their time to teaching science for unsatisfactory pay.

It depends upon what private schools you're talking about. There are science honors schools out there in some of the bigger cities that have all kinds of research funds. Buffalo has a great program at their "City honors school" in which a few students are selected in 9th grade to work with medical researchers. Many of these students have published research by the time they are HS seniors. Its an amazing program, but that just isn't going to work for most rural school districts.

But catholic private schools may not have the kinds of funds you're talking about. A few years back our district hired a teacher from a catholic school and his pay went from $13,000 there to about $35,000 with us.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-13, 01:15 AM
klausnh wrote: In NH, as I believe in other states, the new idea is to rate the teachers on what you know, not on how well they teach. That strategy will not improve our schools. The home environment is the most important part of an education.

Thanks klausnh. They want to rate teachers on what they know - after they've already been certified? I just don't get that - a teacher certification program should reflect a certain level of knowledge that is required to be certified in the first place. That level of knowledge should be what is needed to be an effective classroom teacher. They also have all kinds of teacher certification exams - for both general knowledge and specific subject areas. What do they think they're adding to that?

I think eventually, they'll have students take national exams to evaluate teacher performance, but that will get politicized to the point where the actual exams they come up with will be an utterly meaningless standard.

The home environment is the key. Parents need to send to school children that are prepared to learn and know there are consequences for doing poorly in school. After that the schools have the responsibility to offer programs that challenge those students. And universities need to train teachers to a level that gives teachers the background they need to be successful. Taxpayers need to recognize that most schools run tight budgets with certain expenditures mandated by the states. When taxes are raised it is almost always because the schools need the money to run effective programs.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-13, 01:38 AM
To get back to science teaching specifically, I'm sensing that there is some concern out there that many science teachers may not be qualified because they are not "doing science" - research.

I personally have conducted research during the last few years and just submitted another article to a journal last week. The only reason I mention this is research was not a strong part of the program I took as an undergraduate and that might be a key area to improve science teacher training programs. I worked on my Masters degree at a different university which had a geology department that was much more research oriented than my undergraduate institution. It was beneficial to be exposed to that.

Perhaps this is the key ingredient that needs to be added to training for science teachers - require that they participate in real research as part of the program - in addition to the journal based research papers that are often part of undergraduate science courses. Most high school science teachers will not be able to find the time to be actively pursuing scientific research, but if they've had the experience in college it will make all the difference when they are in the classroom. Of course then you will need the universities to be willing to offer these opportunities.

Kaptain K
2003-Apr-13, 07:44 AM
To get back to science teaching specifically, I'm sensing that there is some concern out there that many science teachers may not be qualified because they are not "doing science" - research.
I, for one, do not want teachers doing research. I want teachers teaching! I also hope that teachers know more about the subject(s) they teach than the high school chemistry teacher I had who defined "halogens" as elements that formed diatomic molecules that are gaseous at room temperature :roll: By her definition, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen are halogens, but bromine, iodine and astatine are not! :cry:

beskeptical
2003-Apr-13, 09:56 AM
To get back to science teaching specifically, I'm sensing that there is some concern out there that many science teachers may not be qualified because they are not "doing science" - research.

Perhaps this is the key ingredient that needs to be added to training for science teachers - require that they participate in real research as part of the program - in addition to the journal based research papers that are often part of undergraduate science courses.

I was often annoyed in my masters program, and in college in general that a lot of emphasis was placed on the things that the professors thought were important. Research of course is a big part of university life and it should be. But not all of us are destined to be researchers.

I found a lot of my education did not apply to the work I do because I am not in a university environment out here in this work place.

Learning everything about research is critical, don't get me wrong. One needs a complete understanding of it in order to understand the science of anything. But I have to say my thesis was the biggest waste of my university time. We ask graduate students to do research in the field they haven't become experts in. I could do a great thesis now, but I didn't know my field well enough to do a great one then.

That may be a completely different experience in fields like astronomy where research is the field. But medicine and teaching are examples of fields that research is not always the end aspiration. I don't want to go to a medical provider that is conducting research, I want to go to one that is keeping up on everyone else's research.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-13, 04:46 PM
Kaptain K wrote: I also hope that teachers know more about the subject(s) they teach than the high school chemistry teacher I had who defined "halogens" as elements that formed diatomic molecules that are gaseous at room temperature By her definition, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen are halogens, but bromine, iodine and astatine are not!


Yikes!!! This reminds of the woman our district was forced to hire (only applicant) for chemistry a few years back. She was clueless. At lunch someone was sharing a story about a person that shot a 400 lb boar. She said "A 400 lb boar? That's huge - why that's a HALF-TON boar!" I shudder to think what her students were learning about metric conversions. When she was fired a few months later for going skiing rather than coming to work she complained to me ... "I just don't understand it. I don't come to school high or drunk and I don't have sex with the students." Apparently her criteria for a good teacher.

But then there was this geochemistry class I took at college once with a chemistry professor that knew very little geology and outwardly expressed disdain for geologists. His representation of the rock CYCLE was this: "Ingeous --> Sedimentary --> Metamorphic". Apparently all rocks are destined to become metamorphic and nothing else. I was so upset by the whole thing that I let the geology department chair know what was going on with the class because the course alternated between the geology and chemistry departments each year.

One would hope that these types of instructors would not make it past the certification process and perhaps that is why some people are calling for more testing of teachers.

dgruss23
2003-Apr-13, 04:58 PM
beskeptical wrote: I found a lot of my education did not apply to the work I do because I am not in a university environment out here in this work place.

This raises an interesting question. How much disconnect is there between what is offered at colleges and what is offered in high school? I know in most school districts there are big gaps in communication between middle school and high school for example - as if the two are completely unrelated entities.

If teacher training courses are not offering anything helpful to those that become teachers (as was my experience), then what exactly is the point of those 15-21 credit hours spent in education classes? I'd have rather taken a few more science classes. I should note here that the education professors were not always the problem. Some of them were good role models, but the content they were teaching was ususally totally irrelevant to the actual practice of classroom teaching.

Hale_Bopp
2003-Apr-14, 02:10 AM
Okay, another science teacher weighing in here with a bit of a rant :)

I teach at a private school. Quick history : After my undergraduate degree in Physics, I wanted to take some time off before grad school. I didn't know what to do, so I taught at a private school on the island of St. Croix (just east of Puerto Rico) having never taken an education course in my life. Lived the life of a poor young adventerous soul in an exotic land.

I went back to grad school in Physics. After a couple of years, I decided the PHD route was not for me and took my M.S. (in Physics) and went back to high school teaching, this time at a private school in Florida. Still no education courses or teaching certificate (okay, one special topic course I took my last semester in grad school called "Teaching College Science." It was designed as a crash course for soon to be college professors in education).

I have been teaching for 9 years now. I attend as many professional meetings and workshops as humanly possible where I present as well as learn. I read multiple journals, both subject matter and education. I have won national and local grants and fellowships (and will be spending this summer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank :)). I know the NSES and Project 2061 Benchmarks for Science Education forward and backward (and I know the NCTM standards for math as well).

Think I could teach in a public school? Think again! Although some states have alternative certification programs, they still require quite a few courses to be taken (at my expense) and some states still require student teaching. Many school districts limit the number of years experience they will recognized for your placement on the pay scale, so I may take a big pay cut trying to switch to public schools. And they want to attract intelligent teachers?

So, now a plea. Let's not confuse the terms "uncertified teacher" and "unqualified teacher". I know cerftified teachers I would not call qualified at all, and I know other uncertified teachers that are definitely qualified (myself included, I hope).

Private schools are hard to generalize. Some offer very competitive pay with public schools (and I am fortunate to be at such a school). Others offer pay only a fraction of the public schools. Each school has a different focus and mission. I know conservative Christian schools that teach creationism in their Biology and Astronomy courses (I would be so fired from such schools :)). Even at my schools, I have been warned to pull some punches over issues such as the Big Bang and Evolution (warnings that fall on deaf ears!)

I work at a child centered school. We are encouraged to find ways to reach students of different abilities and interests. I spent some time with our theater students doing some stage lighting and acoustics to show them the relevance to their interests. I also have a book on the Physics of Baseball I use with some of the sports players (and just got a book on the physics of tennis). I have some photography students working on entries for the AAPT Physics Photo Contest.

Anyway, that is my rant on science education for the day. I have been following this thread for a couple of days and never had time to write it until tonight.

Rob

mike alexander
2003-Jul-08, 12:00 AM
My own son just finished eighth grade and starts high scool in the fall. Most of the teachers he has had have been good to excellent. Most of the textbooks and curricula have been somewhere between horrible and worse. Even the best teachers are hobbled by their materials

If you want to get mad, go around to a primary or high school and pick up a few modern textbooks. They STINK. On ice. My wife and I have been screaming at the math textbooks: they seem to be the worst. Number sentences. Guess and check. No continuity. My son is taking a course this summer as a refresher, since he told us that he 'really didn't understand decimals.' This from a kid with three years straight honor roll and the talented and gifted program.

Oh, yeah. Try to find 'evolution' in a biology text. We call 'em "Texas Texts" because they seem to be written by and produced for the Texas market.

You know.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 12:04 AM
What concepts were taught in his grade 8 math class?

Kizarvexis
2003-Jul-08, 02:11 AM
Here's a classic: After a student threatened to come to my house with a "Magnum" and make some noise if he didn't pass the test, the parent said: "He's like a five year old throwing a tantrum. He's never done anything that would make me think he would seriously hurt somebody. Well, I have had to dodge a few dinner plates, but nothing serious." That is no exaggeration!

My daughter's 2nd grade class had a student like that, but he attacked children in the classroom. :o No amount of complaining to the administration got this kid any help or even disciplined. That and the FCAT curriculum here in Florida (teaching the test not the subject), convinced us to start homeschooling.


I personally believe that it is up to the parent/parents to see to it that their child gets an education. If you wait for the school to educate your child/children, it may be too late to make up for the bad teaching, if such is present.

Oh, well, doing it all at home is quite a task, but it pays off.

We floundered around our first year with my daughter in 3rd grade and my son in Kindergarten, but through their natural child curiosity and our perseverance they advanced a grade and a half on the standardized (expensive :o ) test. Now that we know what we are in for, we plan on improving our teaching and course work. We are teaching the basics, reading, math, storytelling, and whatever science questions they have. Storytelling is really writing. :wink: They hate writing on paper, but love telling and drawing stories. We are working on them getting their thoughts organized and getting the basic story structure down now (beginning, rising action, victory, conculsion). We'll get into serious grammar later as they start to grasp abstract concepts better. In public school Kindergarten, my daughter would write a page long story about a picture that the teacher would send home. The teacher would expect a few sentences, but Katie loved writing long involved stories. After 1st and 2nd grade, with being taught the school forumla writing for the FCAT (their way or an F), my daughter hated writing. :cry:

There is one problem with homeschooling. Almost all the curriculum is creationism based. We've been really picky, but I've had to make up some science stuff myself. (Last week we got an air-powered airplane at a yardsale for $3, so aeronautics (lift, gravity, drag, and thrust) were the topics :)) We went to a local homeschool co-opt for a short time, but all of the people there were YEC's. With most of our time taken up with teaching and working, I didn't have time to fight the YEC's, so we dropped out. I did manage to sneak in a few things like the planet walk and that you really can measure how far a star is from Earth using parallax. Evidently, not knowing how far away the stars are is a YEC thing. :-?

I do have a greater understanding and sympathy for teachers as two students are all I can handle. :) Not to mention how much everything costs. :o

Kizarvexis

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 02:17 AM
Creeationism based?!? :o

Apparently our school system is a bit better. I go to a Catholic School and we are taught evolution and proper science. What's going on in Florida?!?

The weak spot in our system is History. But it isn't the curriculum's fault. It's the teacher's fault. She actually taught us that world war one was caused by Nazis (!) and that an "Axis" existed between Italy and Germany in WWII. (That was in fact the NAME of the alliance that existed between them) Thank James-John-Jahosaphet that the exam was board-wide!

kilopi
2003-Jul-08, 02:25 AM
that an "Axis" existed between Italy and Germany in WWII. (That was in fact the NAME of the alliance that existed between them)
It's also a term that means "An alliance of powers, such as nations, to promote mutual interests and policies." (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=axis) I think that's why they called it the Axis.

wedgebert
2003-Jul-08, 02:31 AM
Here's my thoughts.

FIrst off, K-12 should be general knowledge almost exclusively. Students should have at most an elective or two (maybe three in their senior year) per semester to take more specialized classes. But aside from that, they should be learning general knowledge in math, various sciences, english (spelling and grammar especially!), history, etc.

College should be extremely specialized. I'm doing terrible in college, for among other reasons, I couldn't stand to sit though classes like Great Books, more (of the same) history, and required classes like psychology (?!?) and microeconomics. I'm about to start my last semster (of the eight year plan :)) as a Computer Science major and all I have left is a computer elective and two business classes. Apparently Auburn Univeristy felt that CS majors didn't have enough hours so they added a required "minor" of three classes equalling 9 semester hours in a few different subjects. Unfortunatly, they were all stuff like business or history. Couldn't find any acceptable science classes that would work, so I can't afford to take astronomy like I wanted because if it's not required, I don't get financial aid for it. So now I gotta keep my ADD under control and get my GPA above 2.0 so I can get out into the real world (something none of my classes have prepared me for).

Anyways, ranting aside....

I also think that the K-12 education standards should be taken out of the states' hands and we should develop a uniform curriculum for the entire country. We should look at what works in each subject area around the country and try to combine them into one plan. Advanced students can take more advanced classes (like Astronomy for advanced science students) while remedal students can take special classes designed to catch them back up, not just let them graduate.

All schools should have the same schedule so that students that transfer won't have to deal with scheduling conflicts. This happened to me since I was a Navy brat as a kid. At one point I was two years ahead in math, but changing schools caused me to drop back down to "normal". Also, all schools should have the same textbooks, which should be approved by professionals in that field (i.e. let the Bad Astronomer have the final word in an astronomy textbook :)).

Hopefully these changes would limit the effects of the creationists, young-earthers, IDers, and all those groups who try to sterilize what our children are exposed to in school so that they won't be offended.

Well, that's my rant. Probably doesn't make that much sense since I'm at work and sick of dealing with stupid people (work at a gas station).

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 02:31 AM
Yes, but she was using it in the sense of definition 10 b. A proper noun. An axis existed between the two countries called an Axis. Subtle difference, I know, but I like to pick nits with teachers that don't teach anything but what is on the video she forces us to watch.

Kizarvexis
2003-Jul-08, 02:47 AM
Creeationism based?!? :o

Apparently our school system is a bit better. I go to a Catholic School and we are taught evolution and proper science. What's going on in Florida?!?

The weak spot in our system is History. But it isn't the curriculum's fault. It's the teacher's fault. She actually taught us that world war one was caused by Nazis (!) and that an "Axis" existed between Italy and Germany in WWII. (That was in fact the NAME of the alliance that existed between them) Thank James-John-Jahosaphet that the exam was board-wide!

No, not the Florida curriculum, but most of the home school curriculum is creationism based. (We really didn't get far enough in public school to find out how much creationism is in the Florida public curriculum, so I can't really tell you anything about that.) Evidently, many YECs can't wait to corrupt the public school system, so they home school. Consequentially, most home school curriculum is creationism based. It's not much of a problem in Math and English as they don't deal with creation much, if at all. Science is really bad concerning astronomy, biology and geology. Funny part is they will teach all kinds of astronomy and geology, but not the parts that directly prove a multi-billion old Earth. They substitute the creationism there. Same with biology and evolution. You can have micro-evolution, but not have man and apes be related. It's really weird, but also really funny as the two parts will contradict themselves sometimes. :)

Kizarvexis
(added 'directly' to the science part)

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 02:56 AM
Wow. That's... wow. How can they allow something that is obviously in contridiction to the facts to be in the curriculum. Also, if the public system is as bad as the homeschools system, it's un-constitutional (according to my limited knowledge of the American constitution). That would be mixing one religion's belief (creation by a Christian God) with public education. I hope for the sake of Florida that this is not the case.

wedgebert
2003-Jul-08, 03:07 AM
Ok, take a good look at Florida. If there's something wrong with our country, odds are it's in Florida.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 03:12 AM
Hey, don't dis Florida! I vacation there!

nebularain
2003-Jul-08, 03:23 AM
No, not the Florida curriculum, but most of the home school curriculum is creationism based. (We really didn't get far enough in public school to find out how much creationism is in the Florida public curriculum, so I can't really tell you anything about that.) Evidently, many YECs can't wait to corrupt the public school system, so they home school. Consequentially, most home school curriculum is creationism based.

I don't know if I am going to make things better or worse, but here goes.

I don't know if Christians started the home school movement, but they've (we've?) been the the largest propogators of it. I can appreciate your frustration, but just to be fair - or try to - there's more to the public school system that Christians have problems with than just evolution. There's a whole philosophy being taught (you wouldn't notice it because it most likely seems normal to most of you) that completely goes against our doctrine. I personally had to battle this going through public school, and I absolutely hated it. You never realize how biased something can be unless you have a disagreement with it. (Perfect example: people of liberal Democratic persuasion think that the Fox News Channel is biased; people of the conservative Republican persuasion think that CNN is biased.)

Oh, well, anything else I have to say, I'll probably end up burying myself in a hole.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 03:27 AM
I think CNN is biased, but I think that it is biased in favour of the Right. :o I don't fit in any political category!

Kizarvexis
2003-Jul-08, 03:32 AM
Wow. That's... wow. How can they allow something that is obviously in contridiction to the facts to be in the curriculum. Also, if the public system is as bad as the homeschools system, it's un-constitutional (according to my limited knowledge of the American constitution). That would be mixing one religion's belief (creation by a Christian God) with public education. I hope for the sake of Florida that this is not the case.

Home schooling is very liberal in Florida. As long as you show improvement from one year to the next, you are good. You have a choice of taking a standardized test (which equates roughly to public school), an evaluation by a teacher or an evaluation by a psychologist or other valid tool agreed upon by you and the school district.

Here is a page (http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp?State=FL) with a summary.

Kizarvexis

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 03:34 AM
Phew! Much better. You scared me for a minute. You made it seems very inflexible and extremely conservative. (By which I mean unchanging)

wedgebert
2003-Jul-08, 03:36 AM
Christians are a big propogator of home schooling because they already have experience with it. In this day and age, they have to get to their kids earlier and earlier to make sure that they are also Christians (or whatever religion). We know enough about the universe to not need a mysterious sky-god weilding an olive branch in one hand and a thunderbolt in the other.

I would say that a growing portion of people are only religion because they were "brainwashed" as a kid to believe in it and I doubt many would become religious later in life if not exposed to it early on.

So it makes sense for them to think "hey, I'm already teaching my kid about religion at home, might as well teach them other stuff too". Other might not want their kids exposed to the "evils" of evolution, the big bang or science in general.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 03:40 AM
Funny then that Catholic schools in Ontario teach the Big Bang, evolution and other correct scientific ideas. Not evil at all!

wedgebert
2003-Jul-08, 03:45 AM
I've noticed that Christians more than Catholics seem to be the rabble rousers.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 03:47 AM
:o :-? :lol:

Catholics are Christians!!!

Musashi
2003-Jul-08, 06:12 AM
You know what he meant, Protestans v. Catholics then!

That is strange that they teach big bang, evolution, etc. in Catholic schools in the big CA, when down here, the Christians are trying to get rid of those things in public school.

[edited because I'm too fast on the space bar! :D ]

kilopi
2003-Jul-08, 10:42 AM
You know what he meant, Protestans v. Catholics then!
Not necessarily true. Some people do try to claim that Catholics aren't Christians. This isn't the appropriate board for that discussion, of course.

informant
2003-Jul-08, 11:04 AM
You know what he meant, Protestans v. Catholics then!

That is strange that they teach big bang, evolution, etc. in Catholic schools in the big CA, when down here, the Christians are trying to get rid of those things in public school.



After all the mistakes that the Catholic Church made in the past (Copernicus, Galileo, etc.), I think it finally learned that science and religion should be regarded as separate activities that address different issues.
It's taking the literalist protestants a bit longer to figure that out.

wedgebert
2003-Jul-08, 03:46 PM
I know Catholics are techically Christians, but in general usage they are different branches or sects. That's the usage I was referring to, and I know after I hit post that someone would bring it up. I just didn't care :)

kilopi
2003-Jul-08, 04:46 PM
I know Catholics are techically Christians, but in general usage they are different branches or sects.
Although I've seen that usage, as I said above, that is definitely not a general usage. It's mostly used by a few small fundamentalist groups, I believe.

Kaptain K
2003-Jul-08, 04:57 PM
Strange! IIRC - Saul of Tarsus = Apostle Paul = Pope Paul I, first Pope of the Catholic church. Therefore, the catholics have a greater claim to christianity than any of the protestant branches, since most (all?) were started as protests against the catholic church! 8)

SeanF
2003-Jul-08, 06:02 PM
Strange! IIRC - Saul of Tarsus = Apostle Paul = Pope Paul I, first Pope of the Catholic church. Therefore, the catholics have a greater claim to christianity than any of the protestant branches, since most (all?) were started as protests against the catholic church! 8)

Almost right. Paul was never Pope. Peter (Simon) was the first Pope.

informant
2003-Jul-08, 06:31 PM
And in early Christianity Popes did not have the power that they later gained.
However, I agree with the general point being made. There are so many "sects" within Christianism (even if you just count the more popular ones) that it just doesn't seem accurate to dismiss any of them as "only technically Christian".

wedgebert
2003-Jul-08, 07:45 PM
I know Catholics are techically Christians, but in general usage they are different branches or sects.
Although I've seen that usage, as I said above, that is definitely not a general usage. It's mostly used by a few small fundamentalist groups, I believe.

Really? I guess that comes from me living in Alabama. Anytime I hear the words Christians and Catholics I think of two different religions. I tend to think of small churches and whatnot when I hear Christian, and think of large cathedrals and Mass when I hear of Catholic.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jul-08, 08:09 PM
Catholics in Alabama get cathedrals? Man, I'm getting gyped! :D

Kaptain K
2003-Jul-08, 10:04 PM
Strange! IIRC - Saul of Tarsus = Apostle Paul = Pope Paul I, first Pope of the Catholic church. Therefore, the catholics have a greater claim to christianity than any of the protestant branches, since most (all?) were started as protests against the catholic church! 8)

Almost right. Paul was never Pope. Peter (Simon) was the first Pope.

Oops! My bad.

wedgebert
2003-Jul-08, 10:22 PM
Catholics in Alabama get cathedrals? Man, I'm getting gyped! :D

No, at least not that I'm aware of. That's just my mental image of Catholics. I guess it comes from having a Catholic pope and all those "End of the World/Anti-Christ" movies that came out a few years ago. :-?

I'm not religious so I don' notice these things. The only cathedrals I ever see are the ones I build for my peons in Tropico.

CorugatedBoxMan
2003-Jul-09, 06:36 AM
Well I guess I could offer a little different perspective because I went to a private school which was not Catholic, it was Protestant. Seventh-Day Adventist to be exact. Anyways, I am not sure about othe areas, but when it comes to our school, science is THE BEST, our bi/chem teacher has won numerous awards, our physics teacher taught us about big bang, evolution and relativity and such. Our Knowledge Bowl Team, or nerd bowl as some call it. Takes first place every year. In part because of the suberb SCIENCE AND PHYSICS AND MATH programs we have. The view I have held usually is that Public Schools have terrible programs. Though my parents are both teachers in the public school(guess I shouldn't be too hard :D ) Our school is the top in the region. Did I mention it is Private? :D So now that I have sold you on my school. . .lol.

man on the moon
2003-Jul-09, 09:53 AM
i'll second corrugated box man to some degree...i had a similar experience, but with the privilege of a public school as well. i spent roughly every second year in a new school, alternating between public and private. i had wonderful experiences in both places. maybe it was the local area CGB...i had a well planned and taught program in public high school. biology in particualr was well taught. of course, the law says evolution, but even so, it wasn't ground in. i learned it, and learned it well, but for the most part we learned about my private school times were good too though, guess i got lucky on great teachers! for the most part, they did like he said.what rather than when. in private school i learned chemistry, phyiscs, etc...and our books were the same ones that had been used in my old public school. even astronomy topics were explained thouroughly. my teachers would teach it out of the book--(theology was taught in Bible class)--and then explain why that theory worked. the laws of physics still apply...

i guess in the end i would have to say i just got lucky on teachers. unlike edison, i can say everything i know i learned from my teachers. (ok...so my mom taught me too...). having known the best of both worlds, i'm happy to say all is not lost on either side of the fence...there's hope for quality yet. 8) it requires qualtiy people willing to teach though. our kids aren't going to learn it on their own! and as they say...parents are the first and most important teachers! =P~

(makes me wonder what sort of mess i'm getting myself into... =P~ )