Having read the original piece (as it was sent through our office via email), this rebuke is fantastic…
I must begin by saying I, in no way, think today is the end. But, it is the end of the year, a year of change personally. Surfing the web news headlines this morning brought something to mind when I saw the headline:
It instantly reminded me of a quote we had to learn in high school public speaking class by John Donne. Meditation 17 starts out, “No man is an island” and made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Our public speaking/geography teacher, Coach Trammell, father of baseball player Bubba Trammell, was an unorthodox teacher to say the least. The first day of class, he would throw the book against the wall and flip us off. He wanted us to be free thinkers, not sheep. His famous saying was, “if I can talk about it, I know it. If I can’t talk about it, I don’t know it.” Coach Trammell gave us a list of famous quotes and passages he wanted us to know and, more importantly, be able to talk about. Meditation 17 by John Donne was one of his favorites.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
He wanted us to know something very important…we’re all in this together.
Thanks, Coach Trammell…
The National Academy of Sciences is a great source for information about the status of science research and education in the U.S. The National Research Council (NRC) releases guidelines and frameworks for all aspects of education among other things. In 2011, NRC released a framework for K-12 science education (although all STEM sources are talked about).
The NRC committee’s has two major goals for K-12 science education:
- educating all students in science and engineering
- provide the foundational knowledge for those who will become the scientists, engineers, technologists, and technicians of the future.
The report also divides science education into three dimensions:
- Crosscutting Concepts
- Disciplinary Core Ideas
Practices for K-12 Science Classrooms
- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
- Develop and use models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Engaging students in the actual practice of science and engineering helps them understand how scientific knowledge develops. It also gives them an appreciation for the complexity of the process. It can pique their “curiosity, capture their interest, and motivate their continued study.”
Bayer Co. began a survey of science education. A report released this year summarizes the data from 15 years of public opinion on STEM.
In summary, 15 universal beliefs emerged:
- Science literacy is critical for all Americans young and old, scientist or non-scientist
- U.S. global economic leadership and competitiveness are intrinsically linked to a robust science and technology innovation pipeline and workforce.
- America’s future STEM leadership is dependent on the country’s ability to recruit and retain more women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians (underrepresented minorities) in STEM fields.
- Improving science education for all students – especially girls and underrepresented minorities (URMs) – should be a national priority and begin at the earliest possible elementary school level since that’s where the STEM workforce truly begins.
- Science interest and ability are color-blind and gender-neutral: from an early age, boys and girls of all races and ethnic backgrounds are interested in science.
- Parents and teachers are critically important to nurturing children’s science interest, even if they themselves are not scientists or don’t have all the answers.
- In elementary school, science should be the “4th R” and given the same emphasis as reading, writing, and mathematics.
- A hands-on, minds-on approach to science education is the best way for students to learn science and build crucial science literacy skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to work in teams.
- The nation’s colleges and universities should revitalize pre-service teacher education in science.
- The nation’s in-service teachers should be given the tools and ongoing professional development required to be the best science teachers they can be.
- Students and teachers benefit from having direct access to scientists and engineers on a regular basis in the classroom.
- America’s leading research colleges and universities should rethink how they define academic success when it comes to undergraduate STEM students.
- For corporate America, STEM workforce diversity benefits the corporate bottom line by bringing a range of thought, skills and problem solving to the table.
- America’s STEM industries and communities need to more effectively communicate with all of today’s students about a range of issues including job opportunities and the fact that they are wanted and needed in these jobs.
- It will take a village to improve science education in this country and all stakeholders have a responsibility and a role to play.
So much for the U.S. leading the way…