Will New Science Ed Approach Lead to Different Results?

New Approach Proposed for Science Curriculums – NYTimes.com

One of the big goals, the committee said in a 282-page report, is “to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science.”

This is an important attempt. However, I am dubious that you can show any person the beauty & wonder of anything when a) you are doing it simultaneously with 30-40 people and b) you are doing so in an institutional setting that has awards & punishments (e.g. grades, detention, expulsion, etc.) as a part of its structure.

Compulsory education automatically begins undercutting wonder and covering over beauty for the sake of pure pragmatics. Kids attend school according to a schedule. The schedule is no respecter of when a child is ready for exploring in wonder or entranced with beauty.

This sort of thing works–albeit accidentally–only if a child’s wonder at something scientific is sparked when he/she happens to be in science class. Consider what happens to a student’s participation grade when they are in a science class but their mind is somewhere else.

What if, while in science class, the child is taken over by a wonder about the poem he just read in English? Or what if another student is taken over by the beauty of a well kicked goal in the recess soccer match she just played? Or what if a burgeoning scientist is in wonder at the Second Law of Thermodynamics while in a government class taking a test on the Constitution?

Obviously the issue is not whether science can be taught as wonderful and beautiful. But whether students can be allowed to wonder at the world and seek after beauty DESPITE the class they happen to be attending.

Of course, many educators just trying to get through their lesson plan have a taxonomy for such behavior:  attention deficit disorder.


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