This week's issue of Newsweek has a thought-provoking and saddening column on the state of school science and math standards. More interesting to me is the indictment of education research pertaining to various teaching programs. I know we have touched on the subject before, but while we are all watching the circus being performed by Dr. Lewis, Pat Pope and the board, our teacher's morale has tanked and the quality of education continues to sink. It's time that someone start discussing education reform in DCSS. The question of science education at Fernbank Science Center has been actively discussed here. I love the science center, but I do have to wonder if we shouldn't be spending our time, money and energy on direct, daily science instruction in the everyday classroom. It's a topic with passion on both sides.
" 'There is a dearth of carefully crafted, quantitative studies on what works," says William Cobern of Western Michigan University. "It's a crazy situation.' " Cobern tried to fix that in a study comparing direct instruction with inquiry learning, competing ways to teach science. The smart money has been on the latter, in which students explore a question on their own by, say, growing some seedlings in a closet and others on a windowsill to discover photosynthesis rather than being given the concept by the teacher. Contrary to received wisdom, " 'as long as students are actively engaged, direct instruction does just as well as inquiry-based teaching" in how well kids learn science concepts, he told me. Yet national and state standards push inquiry learning. As Cobern's team diplomatically put it, "Some claims for inquiry methods regarding understanding the nature of science are not sufficiently supported by evidence. ' "
Click here to read the Newsweek article.