Science Goggles

I read a interesting tweet today by @jybuell:


This really got me thinking about the implications for the classroom. The term “cognitive apartheid” might be a bit dramatic, but it struck me as a relevant issue. In many ways our students put on special ‘goggles’ when they get into a class. When they walk into a science class they don their ‘science goggles’ to view the world through the eyes of a scientist. But when they walk out, they just take them off again.

Now we try to break this barrier in many ways. We try to look at everyday occurrences, like: what is the physics of throwing a football, what is combustion in the combustion engine, or how photosynthesis works to grow food. But their is a major problem here, it doesn’t matter if they know the physics, chemistry or biology. Those things will happen regardless and our students are great empiricists. If they miss a pass, they will adjust without recalculating. If their car doesn’t start, they call AAA, not a chemist. If a plant doesn’t grow, they can buy another.

I think true engagement happens when they where their ‘goggles’ home. This will require the change of trying to but science in the context of their lives, but putting their lives in the context of science. We will have to eliminate the walls between physics, chemistry and biology. The more we treat them as separate subjects, the more that students will think of them as separate from their lives. Anyone who’s done research in science has learned that the most interesting discoveries often take place in the areas between them. This will take giving up some curriculum control and working to find student lead and interdisciplinary learning. An integrated science curriculum is often seen as ‘science for dummies’. But as we look to implement the NGSS standards it may be the only way to do them right.

But even as I suggest this, I can hear thousands of college counselors cry out, “NEVER! Colleges need to see these separate courses listed.” This is where the NGSS could come into help. By structuring our curriculum to cover the NGSS in a non linear fashion, we can still show completion of the relevant course work in a way that could still be college ready.

Maybe we can even get those ‘science goggles’ on for a life time.


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