New Classroom Science Standards Up for Review – NYTimes.com

New Classroom Science Standards Up for Review – NYTimes.com.

What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “New Classroom Science Standards Up for Review – NYTimes.com

  1. The video doesn’t tell much. It’s like the old story of the IBM salesman, who would sit you down and tell you how great it’s gonna be.

    The section on “managing human environmental impacts” seems to take as a starting point that humans are responsible for global warming:

    “. . . core ideas K-12 students should understand about the basics of science – from biology, to physics and chemistry, to earth science. The last national standards were released back in 1996, and manmade climate change wasn’t mentioned.”

    And for good reason.

    The NYT article seems to imply that weather and climate is the whole of science. (No one should be surprised by that.)

    The actual Framework (from lat year) is a bit better, “… core ideas for the physical sciences, life sciences, and earth and space sciences…”

    Underlying all of science is mathematics. Mathematics describes the Universe, at both the cosmological and the quantum level. Without math, there is no understanding. Every educated person should be conversant in math up through trigonometry. It provides the groundwork of logic, of reasoning from premise to conclusion. (And it builds character…)

  2. Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you that mathematics is key to understanding of science. I still go back and forth on standards, but notice the new framework proposed has a ‘dimension’ called “scientific and engineering practices” which is supposed to help avoid the problem with ‘coverage’ of material but promote deeper understanding. It also mentions the use of math. It’s a list of fairly obvious targets, but nice that they are stated:

    1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering) 2. Developing and using models
    3. Planning and carrying out investigations
    4. Analyzing and interpreting data
    5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
    6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
    7. Engaging in argument from evidence
    8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

    If these standards move teachers to promote how to think deeply about the world, then I’m all for them. I just hope this isn’t just a veiled attempt to try and simply increase international test scores in science.

    • I certainly agree with that. Applied math is what drives engineering and science, and those are the disciplines that give us toys like the iPhone and Facebook..

      I think one could derive the Scientific Method from those 8 statements.

      Aside: as you’re more in touch with the “student universe”, how much have you seen of “math phobia” or “math aversion”?

      “I just hope this isn’t just a veiled attempt to try and simply increase international test scores in science.”

      That sounds like a condemnation of the tests (something I’ve heard before: “teaching to the test” seems to be a common rallying cry).

      But if “teaching to the test” is not a Good Thing, that means that the test itself is a Bad Thing. Shouldn’t a test be a way of finding out what the student has learned? And partly, a reinforcement for the student? (And ideally, a kind of diagnostic, to find out where the gaps are.)

      • I haven’t seen any math aversion with students (fortunately, I teach 2nd graders and they tend to see math everywhere). I do see a large percentage of adults with math aversion. I will attend a lecture, and while the speaker is giving a convincing argument about something, they will come to something that requires some basic math and say something like, “You do the math. Math’s not my forte.” Of course that’s when they lose me as I’m thinking, “the conclusion you drew relied on a lot of math.”

        I don’t think tests are a good or bad thing. I just worry that policies get put in place based solely on test scores. Having said that, teaching to the test, in my opinion, is a bad thing because you’re teaching children to be good test takers rather than critical thinkers.

        There is definitely content that students need to learn and you can test for that pretty easily, but if test makers can create questions where students have to apply their content knowledge more deeply and across disciplines, we’ll know if students can actually use their knew knowledge. Both kinds of questions exist, but unfortunately, the former is the one that appears most often on tests that have been rushed to the press. You may have heard of the New York test which had a story of a talking pineapple. That one caused quite a stir. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/28/opinion/collins-a-very-pricey-pineapple.html

  3. I saw that one. Yikes!! I thought that it might be a good test question (way outside the 9 dots), but only if there was an “explain your answer” part to the question.

    You’ve probably heard of interview questions that some big companies (especially Google) give, questions like “how many windows are there in downtown Chicago?” – the kind of question where there is no really right answer (or if there is, it’d be way too hard to find) – and what they’re really interested in is how the person goes about solving a problem.

    The trouble is, the essay-type questions are harder to grade, and take a lot of time to deal with. Which leads to one of those “interesting” questions: how can we deal with that?

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