Rethinking the Way We Teach Science: The Interplay of Content, Pedagogy, and the Nature of Science

Rethinking the Way We Teach Science: The Interplay of Content, Pedagogy, and the Nature of Science

Rethinking the Way We Teach Science: The Interplay of Content, Pedagogy, and the Nature of Science

Rethinking the Way We Teach Science: The Interplay of Content, Pedagogy, and the Nature of Science

Synopsis

Offering a fresh take on inquiry, this book draws on current research and theory in science education, literacy, and educational psychology, as well as the history and philosophy of science, to make its case for transforming the way science is taught.

Re-thinking the Way We Teach Science addresses major themes in national reform documents and movements--how to place students at the center of what happens in the classroom; how to shift the focus from giving answers to building arguments; how to move beyond narrow disciplinary boundaries to integrated explorations of ideas and issues that connect directly with students; and most especially, the importance of engaging students in discussions of an interactive and explanatory character. Deeply anchored in the classroom, highly interactive, and relevant across grade levels and subject matter, above all this is a book about choosing to place the authority of reason over that of right answers.

Excerpt

Not too long ago I attended a meeting where a publisher’s representative was urging the adoption of a series of textbooks. After 10 or 15 minutes of describing various advantages of the books, he came to a new feature. Teachers could access a web-site where lesson plans were available. One needed only to specify the number of days to be spent on a given chapter, and out would come a breakdown for lessons: 5 minutes here, 10 for this activity, and another 15 for that … In addition, each specified chunk of time would be related to state learning objectives and national education standards. I could feel the energy in the room. Clearly, the teachers were pleased by the notion of a web-site that would virtually write their lesson plans. But there was more. The sales representative went on to say that these lesson plans were especially good for new teachers, who have a tendency “to get bogged down explaining things.” That was the part I loved. Here was help making sure you wouldn’t waste your time explaining things.

It is my intent here to praise the virtues of getting bogged down. There is more here than a question of speed. Choosing to go “slowly,” that is, choosing to stop for questions, to explore what it all means, and to lay out a map, is also choosing to have things make sense. In the end, it is placing the authority of reason over that of right answers.

Everything in the chapters that follow comes down to this: if we work to have things make sense, students will join us in that work. But it is complicated. We will find ourselves in the intersection of three conversations. There is the science we seek to teach, such as the material in our textbooks. There is, as well, a body of pedagogical notions about how best to go about teaching. To these we may add the history and philosophy of the sciences, which help us appreciate both the nature of science and the problems and issues that shaped the modern understanding. Together these three make a good story.

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