TEACHING SCIENCE, MATHEMATICS, AND TECHNOLOGY
Teaching Should Be Consistent With the Nature of Scientific Inquiry
Science, mathematics, and technology are defined as much by what they do and how they do it as they are by the results they achieve. To understand them as ways of thinking and doing, as well as bodies of knowledge, requires that students have some experience with the kinds of thought and action that are typical of those fields. Teachers, therefore, should do the following:
Start With Questions About Nature
Sound teaching usually begins with questions and phenomena that are interesting and familiar to students, not with abstractions or phenomena outside their range of ...view middle of the document...
This puts a premium, just as science does, on careful observation and thoughtful analysis. Students need guidance, encouragement, and practice in collecting, sorting, and analyzing evidence, and in building arguments based on it. However, if such activities are not to be destructively boring, they must lead to some intellectually satisfying payoff that students care about.
Provide Historical Perspectives
During their school years, students should encounter many scientific ideas presented in historical context. It matters less which particular episodes teachers select (in addition to the few key episodes presented in Chapter 10) than that the selection represent the scope and diversity of the scientific enterprise. Students can develop a sense of how science really happens by learning something of the growth of scientific ideas, of the twists and turns on the way to our current understanding of such ideas, of the roles played by different investigators and commentators, and of the interplay between evidence and theory over time.
History is important for the effective teaching of science, mathematics, and technology also because it can lead to social perspectives—the influence of society on the development of science and technology, and the impact of science and technology on society. It is important, for example, for students to become aware that women and minorities have made significant contributions in spite of the barriers put in their way by society; that the roots of science, mathematics, and technology go back to the early Egyptian, Greek, Arabic, and Chinese cultures; and that scientists bring to their work the values and prejudices of the cultures in which they live.
Insist on Clear Expression
Effective oral and written communication is so important in every facet of life that teachers of every subject and at every level should place a high priority on it for all students. In addition, science teachers should emphasize clear expression, because the role of evidence and the unambiguous replication of evidence cannot be understood without some struggle to express one's own procedures, findings, and ideas rigorously, and to decode the accounts of others.
Use a Team Approach
The collaborative nature of scientific and technological work should be strongly reinforced by frequent group activity in the classroom. Scientists and engineers work mostly in groups and less often as isolated investigators. Similarly, students should gain experience sharing responsibility for learning with each other. In the process of coming to common understandings, students in a group must frequently inform each other about procedures and meanings, argue over findings, and assess how the task is progressing. In the context of team responsibility, feedback and communication become more realistic and of a character very different from the usual individualistic textbook-homework-recitation approach.
Do Not Separate Knowing From Finding Out