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How NOT To Teach Science
© Teresa Bondora-Revere
Most schools and textbooks approach the teaching and learning of science in a way that creates confusion for the student. At the elementary level it is approached in the right way by teaching each year, most of the sciences, at a basic level. The problem is that the material is "dumbed down". Children are not taught chemistry or introduced to the periodic table of elements. Concepts of motion and physics aren't taught. Correct terminology isn't used, processes that involve a series of steps are glossed over. At the middle school level it gets worse. Instead of continuing to teach all sciences they are parted out and a student then learns only one science a year. They are now taught say, biology, without having had the basics of chemistry. Without chemistry, many processes in biology that are vital to understanding how living things work, cannot be taught. So the material must be dumbed down yet again.
Science is not like math, which is progressive. In math we teach the simple concepts and then progress through simple operations, fractions, etc. We expect that very young children will learn to memorize their multiplication tables but cannot learn simple rules of chemistry or physics. When they have grasped these basic math concepts, we can begin the ideas of algebra. But in science, there is no linear progression. Science is web-like. All parts are interconnected. To answer one question in biology, we must use chemistry. To understand why in chemistry, we can use biology. Physics is dependent on the biology of the body to explain motion in humans.
At the college level, students who major in any science field are counseled to take chemistry first then biology, physics, earth sciences. But at this point it is assumed they have the basics necessary to know where to put the advanced knowledge gained in these classrooms. Sadly, many don't and so they struggle through and are discouraged from the sciences and the many fields and careers to which it may lead.
So how should we teach our children science?
Most of you who home school do not doubt the abilities of your children to master this material. But have you helped to show your child that these concepts are simple to learn? If you have skipped chemistry and physics until they are older you are sending the message that these subjects are hard and cannot be attempted until later. These subjects maintain a mystique and fear that is easily connected to them.
I teach a workshop on teaching science and it's via the internet. This will be for adults only and by donation after the course is finished. I love science and I hope to help us all teach our children how easy and fun science can be. I also hope to dispel the myths that surround the "harder" sciences, thus paving the way for our children to pursue their dreams of being doctors, dentists, veterinarians, wildlife and marine biologists, astronauts, anything they want to be!
Teresa Bondora-Revere is a homeschool mother of two. She lives in Mobile, Alabama, USA where she is working on a book on How To Teach Science. She hosts an on-line workshop on How To Teach Science. You can visit her on-line at www.steelcreek.com
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