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Contemporary science education needs to be more scientific; to proceed in a more scientific manner.
The current approach is better suited to produce skilled technicians than true scientists.
The tendency of contemporary science education is to begin with theory and then proceed to explain how observed phenomena are consistent with the theory. The theory is presented as primary, as something we should accept as given, as something already worked out by experts. This approach promotes in students a habit of surrender; of sacrificing personal intellectual sovereignty. Students educated in this way lack the perspective and vision characteristic of someone with a scientific mindset.
We need a better way.
While the knowledge of experts has its place, over-relying on a theory-to-phenomena pedagogy is backwards for training good scientists. We need to respect the student as a rational agent capable of independently analyzing evidence. Students need to be supported in a process of inquiry, a process that mirrors the scientific method.
The articles in this series represent a proposal: The Heights seeks to launch a collaborative effort to improve science education. We seek this for ourselves and our own science offerings, for other schools in the liberal arts tradition, and for STEM focused schools.
To that end, we need partners who are interested in joining with us to think strategically about how to improve science education. This is bigger than any one of us.
Specifically, we ask that science educators interested in working on this project please reach out to Mr. Michael Moynihan, Heights Upper School Head and project coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our hope is that our collaborative efforts might yield a database of resources that will help schools revive their students’ experience of the natural sciences in a manner that promotes true scientific thinking.