My apologies. This is the longest I’ve gone without posting since starting up this blog. A visit to family has been extended to include a funeral, and I’ve slackened off my internet surfing to attend to family issues. But I thought I’d quickly share this interesting article about the proposed common core science standards.
The author’s biggest problem with the standards – the absence of required laboratory experiments – is summarized in the last two paragraphs.
What we see is repeated use of “Develop a representation …” or “Construct an explanation …” or “Use models to support …” or “Evaluate the merits ….” These are not bad by themselves but have pushed out the soul of science by completely taking over the new standards, at least in chemistry and, in my reading, all of the other topics as well. Where do students measure? Where do they see with their eyes the nature of the materials that they’re studying?
Putting aside my bias for chemistry, which owns only ten of the nearly 100 topics, I am not happy with abandoning the laboratory and replacing it with engineering projects and “think” science almost entirely. I hope that this situation changes but feel a juggernaut bearing down upon our science courses and suspect that we are helpless to stop or even deflect it.
This is NOT an area where I have any expertise. But I will note that the science course I remember best from my frankly rather unscientific education was an eighth grade honors physical science class centered almost entirely on experiments. The course was something of an experiment for my junior high, and I have no idea how long it survived . . . probably until the next educational fad came along. But I vividly remember getting a beaker full of brown-colored liquid, with instructions to figure out its composition. I do NOT remember whether my lab partner and I got the ingredients right, although he went on to become a renowned physician and laboratory scientist. Still, I retain vivid images of boiling, condensing, weighing, and head-scratching. It’s the closest I got to real science. I’m assuming the fudge cooling experiments my kids and I conducted in home school (modeling fast versus slow cooling lava) don’t count.
Anyway, I’d love to hear from those of you who know this world much better than I do.