An Argument for Science Education

by Steve Dyche, Director, Mathematics and Science Education Center
Appalachian State University

I am still concerned about the lack of requests for science workshops from schools in northwestern North Carolina. Yes, yes, I know the ABC plan says we are not going to administer year-end tests in science and so let us not fool around with it anyway. After all, everyone doesn't need to be a scientist, and besides, teaching the darn subject takes materials and stuff that teachers don't have or that requires time to set up. Another thing - kids always get loud when they do science, and that makes Ms Brownie down the hall really upset and she runs to the main office and the principal gets all bent out of shape. Sure, there are lots of reasons not to teach science; there just aren't any good reasons not to teach it. If instructors would teach sceince as it should be taught - with a hands-on emphasis utilizing the science processes - all students and teachers could enjoy the experience. They could see the relationship of science to the real world, and experience how it can improve reading, language, math, and problem solving skills. They could also see how science relates to the rest of the curriculum. If science is not taught, where will students get the opportunity to make observations, suggest inferences, practice classifying, formulate hypotheses, predict, interpret data, and experiment? Sure, communicating, measuring, using numbers, and space/time relationships are science processes too, and students can be given a dose of those processes during math, language arts and reading - and they should! Don't get me wrong - those subjects are very important, but wouldn't it make more sense to have those processes reinforced when the disciplines are linked to science?

Getting back to the previously mentioned process of observing, inferring, classifying, predicting, etc. If science is not taught, when will students have the opportunity to practice these process skills? The processes are not the sole province of science. They are associated with life-long skills - skills which are necessary in the workplace, in the home and in everyday life. Our entire nation is becoming technology-based; where is the technology without the science? Again I ask: where will kids get a chance to develop the skills associated with these processes? One avenue might be social studies, but wait a minute - social studies is not being tested either - that subject too is being placed on the back burner. The absence of hands-on process oriented science in North Carolina schools due to the removal of end year testing is hurtful to our students, our teachers and to our society. I beseech all superintendents, school boards, principals, teachers and parents, to insist that science be taught in their schools and that science instruction be inquiry and process driven. Only then will we have a student population that is truly receiving a well-rounded education.

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