Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Teaching Real Science

By Alex Reisner

Are we teaching difficult concepts too early in the science curriculum?

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Bruce Alberts is Editor in Chief of the journal Science, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco and was President of the US National Academy of Sciences from 1993 - 2005.

In his editorial of January 20, 2012, "Trivializing Science Education" he writes of a: "serious battle over the California State Science Education Standards that I and many others lost in 1998. As a result, for my grandchildren, “science” includes being able to regurgitate the names of parts of the cell in 7th grade, after memorizing terms such as Golgi apparatus and endoplasmic reticulum." He then continues: "Those of us who are passionate about science have thus far failed to get real science taught in most of our schools. Is it time to regroup with a different strategy?"

To continue, what Professor Alberts is on about is the persistence of teaching difficult concepts too early in the science curriculum, and they are taught with an overly strict attention to rules, procedure, and rote memorization. He then recalls his testimony of some 14-years ago, while serving as president of the National Academy of Sciences, when he unsuccessfully opposed such ideas as teaching the periodic table of the elements in 5th grade, and he cites several more examples of the rote teaching of "factoids":

When we teach children about aspects...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Alex Reisner edits the-funneled-web.com