Science Education: Michael Moynihan on the Need for a New Synthesis

The problem with science education today is not that it is too scientific at the expense of being philosophic or Christian. The problem is that it is not scientific enough such that it has often become dogmatic rather than data-driven. 


This week on HeightsCast we talk with upper school head Michael Moynihan about a new initiative of his on the Forum: the Initiative for the Renewal of Science Education. In the episode, Michael discusses the need for a new synthesis in the liberal arts, combining the best of modern science with the wisdom of ages. In particular, he explains how the recent tendency in science education to begin with theory and then proceed to phenomena is unscientific, producing students with a habit of intellectual surrender rather than the inspiration to become great scientists.




  • 1:54 Introduction to the New Synthesis
  • 7:45 People/movements that have responded to the problem 
      • 8:02 The classical school response
      • 9:50 The creation science approach
      • 11:40 The NOMA perspective
  • 15:40 Teaching science scientifically 
  • 18:40 How science is typically taught today 
  • 20:23 The student as sovereign knower
  • 24:15 A more scientific approach to science education 
  • 26:40 Examples of the new approach
      • Three characteristics 
        • 27:24 Taking a historical perspective
        • 29:04 Leading with the real world 
        • 32:08 Making connections to other knowledge 
  • 34:00 Applications in the home
  • 35:03 Introduction and invitation to the Initiative for the Renewal of Science Education 


Also on The Forum 


Why a Liberal Arts Education Today? Michael Moynihan on Realism, Reductionism, and the Need for a New Synthesis in Liberal Education with Michael Moynihan 

Bring Back Reason by Michael Moynihan

Michael Moynihan

About the guest:

Michael Moynihan

A native of Rochester, NY, Michael Moynihan earned B.A. degrees in history and science pre-professional studies with a concentration in the Honors Program from the University of Notre Dame. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After teaching for one year and earning a master’s degree in theology from The Catholic University of America, he joined the faculty of The Heights School in 1995. He has taught chemistry, Advanced Placement chemistry, eighth grade science, ethics, math and religion, has coached The Heights’ cross-country team and founded The Heights Mountaineers program. Michael was named Head of the Upper School in 2002. He and his wife, Angela, have eleven children, with four sons here at the School.

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