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Posts Tagged ‘Science Education

grading the states’ science standards.

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Found this over at Pharyngula. And it is interesting stuff.

The Fordham Institute has released their State of State Science Standards 2012, which grades every state’s K-12 standards for science education. The introduction highlights four problems areas creating substandard education: an undermining of evolution, a propensity to be vague, poor integration of scientific inquiry, and a lack of numbers, mathematical formulae and equations.

How did your state do?

Minnesota, unfortunately, got a C. I was a little surprised by that. But then I realized, again unfortunately, I probably shouldn’t be. MN got a 5/10, and if that’s a C, I assume this is graded on a pretty curvaceous curve.

Why did we get a C? Here’s the MN Overview:

The Minnesota science standards are like the frustrating student who does excellent work two days a week but shoddy work on the other three. When the standards are “on,” they are cogent and challenging. But too often they are marred by vague, incorrect, or grade-inappropriate material, or are missing key content entirely.

Other noteworthy inclusions on subjects of TRC’s interest on Minnesota science standards:

  • Though a minor issue, the standards are occasionally marred by an inappropriate focus on local beliefs
  • The high school physics standards are marred by illogical organization
  • The physical science standards are barely passable
  • The  Minnesota earth and space science standards are reasonably  comprehensive, covering the water cycle, mineral properties, fossils, and natural resources. The basic structure of the solar system is also well covered.
There’s a lot in these reports. If you are interested in science education, it is worth a quick look, if for no other reason than to see how well your particular interest is getting treated. These are some tough graders, remember. The only As given were to California and Washington, D.C. And notice that the mountain West is swimming in a sea of failure to educate on science. Alas.

Written by Christopher ZF

February 3, 2012 at 16:01

Teaching Denialism as Science, or putting our heads deeper in the sand.

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How long, as a nation, are we going to fight battles over whether non-science can be taught in the science classroom? It’s tiresome. If you don’t want to “believe” science, that’s your decision and no one can take your right away to not “believe” in science. Fine.

But you still can’t decide what is science, how science works, and what it finds. The scientific process is how science operates, and what it finds is what should be taught in the classroom. Anything else is religiously or politically motivated and should not be allowed to impact education. This has long been fought over regarding evolution, and evolution continually wins out over creation/ID in the science classroom. Because one is science and one is not.

Unfortunately, this is no longer just a conversation about evolution.

Although scientific evidence increasingly shows that fossil fuel consumption has caused the climate to change rapidly, the issue has grown so politicized that skepticism of the broad scientific consensus has seeped into classrooms.

Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change. Tennessee and Oklahoma also have introduced legislation to give climate change skeptics a place in the classroom.

Mandating science teachers to teach opposition shows how far the denial industry can reach in this country. There’s no other reason that states would require teaching climate change DENIAL. Teaching denial to accepted scientific findings as a valid scientific stance makes a mockery of science education, decades of scientific research, the peer-review process, and reality. Denialism has no business in the classroom. Teachers do not teach denial of creationism. They teach evolution as the strongest scientific understanding of biology.

Meanwhile, in a whopping demonstration of misunderstanding how science operates, legislatures (in areas that will be least affected by climate change, by the way) are passing resolutions denying climate change. Because that is how you respond to science. Science finds something we dislike, so our state government will deny it even exists. Screw you, peer-review! Screw you professional experts!

A true triumph for intellectual honesty.

There is room for debate in science, in the public square, and in the halls of government. But when it comes to education, there is no room for putting our heads in the sand and ignoring the fundamental understanding of science to the detriment of our future.

Written by Christopher ZF

January 17, 2012 at 11:29