Re: [asa] on "baconianism" & American evangelicals

From: <>
Date: Wed Mar 07 2007 - 18:08:44 EST

While I can get as excited as the next guy about waxing philosophical and
teaching historical context and the "big picture" on how scientists think, the
populace at large (parents of my students) would be much less excited about this.

I don't know if you were thinking more at college level or high school in this,
but from a high school teacher's point of view, the traditional factual content
still ranks high to the public mind. And while this is exactly the problem you
have been discussing, I'm not sure I would want to completely jump ship as a
teacher. Maybe it's just lazy pedagogical inertia speaking here, students still
need the raw material for their thinker to practice its reasoning powers on.

I know the ideal -- that we would get them on the track of asking probing
questions, then let them make the discoveries and retrace the steps of great
thinkers. And I'm all for it! But meanwhile, then you have to hold back the
institutional watchdogs with their eyes on standardized test scores when my
students aren't able to regurgitate the litany of information that colleges and
corporate powers say they need to know. In the long run, I would stand behind
the broad thinker any day who will end up with the greater benefit over his
test-savvy classmates, but in the meanwhile, our system just isn't set up to
encourage this kind of long-term investment. (our educational version of
corporate short-sightedness).


Quoting Ted Davis <>:

.. I believe that the most important
> thing to try to accomplish in a gen ed science course, is to give students a
> good sense of how science actually works. No specific science content needs
> to be taught!! That is, the course might just as well deal with a single
> topic like dinosaur extinction or the cause of AIDS or the big bang theory,
> but the primary goal should always be to convey a clear understanding of the
> nature of science. Get rid of any goals about specific scientific facts and
> principles to be conveyed--leave these up to your faculty to pick, based on
> their areas of interest and expertise -- and replace them with concerted
> attention to how scientists think and work.
> In other words, change the science requirement. That's probably what you
> need to do, in order to do this right. Replace a lot of science (as
> traditionally understood) with a lot of learning *about* science (HPS and
> certain scientific information used as a concrete topic to help convey what
> science is about).
> Ted

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Received on Wed Mar 7 18:09:21 2007

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