RE: [asa] science education (was: YEC the default Christian belief?)

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Fri Nov 20 2009 - 08:48:52 EST


My main concern is that students do not get a false early impression of what science is. A good grounding of how physics is done, as an experimental/theoretical discipline, would not foster in young minds false conceptions of science that may be arrived at in courses where memory is more important than the logic and the true understanding of the workings of Nature. Let us face it, the sandbox where physicists play is clear and finite. On the other hand, the sandbox that biologists play in is all-encompassing. Herein lies all the fights regarding Darwinism. That is why Phil Skell has been constantly emphasizing the importance of distinguishing the experimental aspect of biology versus the historical aspect, which I wholeheartedly agree.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2009 11:59 PM
To: asa
Subject: Re: [asa] science education (was: YEC the default Christian belief?)


I agree with you that there is a natural progression of simple through
complex as one moves from physics through to biology. On the other hand, I
understand the concern of those who want the students to have as much math
as possible when they come to physics. My point is that it doesn't have to
be an either/or. If you look at the layout of the science system in Ontario
which I provided in my other post, you see that students can be learning all
the science subjects all the way through. Thus, I think an internecine war
between "physics first" and "biology first" is counterproductive. Both
sides are right. Physics is basic to all the sciences and the study of it
should be begun in ninth grade. But parts of it should be deferred to
twelfth grade, when students have more math. And biology and chemistry need
to be started early, in ninth grade, so that by eleventh and twelfth grade
the more difficult parts of those subjects can be taught. It's simply a
matter of getting the educational authorities to make sure a full slate of
science courses is offered all the way up -- general science in the earlier
grades, and full credit courses in the special sciences in the upper grades.

English is taught in every grade; Math is taught in every grade; if Science
is a priority, educators will make sure that it, too, is taught in every
grade. And that should apply to each of the three main sciences. There's
no reason all three of them can't be available at every grade level, at
least as components of general science courses. It's simply a question of
administrative and political will.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Alexanian, Moorad" <>
To: <>; "Cameron Wybrow" <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2009 11:29 AM
Subject: RE: [asa] science education (was: YEC the default Christian

The order of science teaching ought to be physics-chemistry-biology. This
makes sense since it goes in the direction of the simpler to the more
complex---recall physics deals with dead matter! Therefore, one can develop
a better understanding of what science is and what it is not from learning
physics first rather than biology. In biology, the experimental results are
often yoked to an evolutionary explanation by burdening the teaching of the
experimental aspect of biology, viz. DNA, genetics, etc., which is nonsense.
Physics is more quantitative and so the teaching of physics first would
remove that false notion gained by those who start science studies with
biology, which is very qualitative, and damages the conception of what
science is that if often irreversible. That is why students always balk at
physics and say that it is very hard. Of course, physics is difficult if you
compare it with biology, which does not put a strain on the brains of our
K-12 students.
See the following websites.
More students need more science! (Physics Nobel laureate Leon Lederman is a
leader in this effort.)
Physics First in Science Education Reform


From: [] On Behalf Of []
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2009 11:02 AM
To: Cameron Wybrow
Subject: Re: [asa] science education (was: YEC the default Christian

I'm teaching at a Christian school, but this course sequence should still be
fairly typical, I believe in larger public schools.

9th grade: Biology
10th grade: Physical sciences (this would include geology, meteorology,
chemistry, physics, some astronomy)
11th grade: chemistry
12th grade: physics

Other electives are also available, though not every semester or year such
Human anatomy, zoology, or botany.

It isn't that students can't take these courses out of sequence ---if the
scheduling allowed for such a thing (& in our small school --it wouldn't)
could pile up all four science classes in one year if they wanted, but who
want to do that? So in a practical sense, moving one science class
means encouraging the re-scheduling for another for the obvious reason that
want sciences spread out over their high school years.

gotta go --time for geometry class.


Quoting Cameron Wybrow <>:

> Merv:
> I think I'm not understanding you.
> Are you saying that if the subject of evolution were moved up to a higher
> grade, physics would have to be moved down to a lower grade to compensate?
> That doesn't follow, unless I badly misunderstand your system.
> I wasn't speaking of moving an entire biology *course* to a higher grade,
> but of moving *material* from a lower-grade biology course to a
> higher-grade
> biology course. For example, if biology in your school is studied in
> ninth
> grade and eleventh grade, I was suggesting moving *the evolution unit*
> (the
> two or three weeks spent studying evolution) from the ninth-grade course
> to
> the eleventh grade course, and correspondingly moving something else
> (maybe
> ecology, it doesn't matter, since it's only for illustrative purposes)
> down
> from the eleventh grade course to the ninth grade course. If physics were
> offered in, say, tenth grade and twelfth grade, it wouldn't be affected in
> the slightest by the shuffling of material between biology courses. So
> I'm
> missing your point.
> Or are you saying that biology is only offered *once* in all of high
> school,
> and physics is only offered *once* in all of high school? If that's the
> case, American science education is in bad shape indeed.
> Please describe the system for me. Suppose I enter ninth grade in a
> typical
> American school -- use your school if you wish -- and I know right from
> the
> start that I want to be a scientist or engineer, and I want to take
> *every*
> science course available to me at *every* grade level. What would the
> sequence be? What could I take in ninth grade? In tenth? In eleventh?
> In
> twelfth? How many could I get in total? (Leave out the math courses; I
> just want to know about the science courses.)
> Please indicate also if you are talking about semestered courses (running
> from Sept to Jan, or from Feb to June) or full-year courses (running from
> Sept to June).
> Cameron.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <>
> To: "Cameron Wybrow" <>
> Cc: <>
> Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 5:28 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] YEC the default Christian belief? (was: (aliens)
> November
> Newsletter from Reasonable Faith)
> > Quoting Cameron Wybrow <>:
> >
> > That's an interesting proposal (to move biology to an 11th or 12th grade
> > level.
> > And maybe it would accomplish a "side-stepping" of controversy as you
> > suggest.
> > As a physical sciences teacher, though, I do enjoy the luxury of
> > teaching
> > physics as a senior level class when students have some algebra and
> > trigonometry
> > (and maybe even some calculus) under their belt. Teaching it earlier
> > would
> > seriously weaken the content. It would be interesting to hear if high
> > school
> > level life science teachers would or could teach biology more rigorously
> > to a
> > senior than they do to a sophomore.
> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri Nov 20 08:49:08 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Nov 20 2009 - 08:49:08 EST