Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

School Science Syllabus Flawed

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

School Science Syllabus Flawed

Article excerpt

THIS article is about the teaching of science in Queensland secondary schools, and the defects which I as a teacher of some 40 years' experience in the teaching of science now perceive in the present education of year 8-10 students.

It is written as a last resort - a kind of "whistleblower" action, because of the past decade or more I have attempted by civilized, logical, and educated means to improve the teaching of science in years 8-10 - the last years in the Queensland education system in which the study of science is mandatory. I have written to authors and publishers of texts, to Ministers of Education, and to Education Queensland.

The result has been the ignoring of these serious matters, often in a dismissive, not to mention rude, manner. Nevertheless, the contents of this article, even stated boldly and briefly, are such that all who read it - parents, teachers, students and the community generally - should be disgusted and dismayed that the discipline of science, so essential for the informed knowledge of a 21st century citizen, is so inadequately and erroneously presented in schools.

I will begin with an unequivocal statement and then cite instances and facts in support of the statement.

No student studying or being taught science to the end of year 10, according to the Education Queensland official science syllabus, can be deemed basically literate in science, even if he/she studies the syllabus conscientiously and is taught by competent teachers.

The facts cited :

* The syllabus has significant omissions which render it at best a confusing patchwork of poorly stated and disconnected topics. For example Archimedes' principle, pressure and density, and the simple physics of the atmosphere, are largely absent.

* The syllabus treats the two basic sciences - chemistry and physics - in an almost wholly qualitative manner, resulting in lack of precision accuracy and structure. Mathematics is largely in fact almost entirely ignored.

* Some of the topics in the only text book I have seen, (which I am assured by the teachers is the "best"), Jacaranda Science, are so badly worded and error-ridden that the use of this text is most undesirable. …

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