Re: [asa] science education

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Fri Nov 20 2009 - 19:13:06 EST

Cameron Wybrow wrote:
> Merv:
> It's always the case that each teacher sees his or her subject as very
> important and wants the most time for it. We have that in Ontario, too.
> But somehow, way back when, the sciences got themselves ensconced here in
> their present position, and the other teachers, whether grudgingly or not,
> accepted that. After English and Math, Science is top banana in the high
> school curriculum, and the History, Geography, French, Music, Phys. Ed.,
> etc. teachers just have to accept and work around that fact.
> The other factor is how many semesters each of your science courses are, and
> how many minutes per day a science class occupies. For example, if your
> senior physics course is in both semesters, rather than one, it may cover as
> much as our Grade 11 and 12 Physics, depending upon how many minutes per day
> you have of class time and how many teaching days there are in your school
> year. And ditto for your Chemistry and Biology courses. That would still
> give Ontario schools a slight edge in total science time, because of the two
> years of general science in our Grades 9 and 10, but the difference wouldn't
> be as great. But even if the time spent on each science subject were
> exactly the same in the two systems, I think there are pedagogical
> advantages to spreading the learning over four years, so that all the
> sciences are constantly before the student's mind. Otherwise you get the
> familiar "out of sight, out of mind" phenomenon. If a student arrives at
> university/college with physics fresh in mind, but chemistry two or three
> years back, and biology four years back, that's not really a desirable
> situation for a student who is going to major in chemistry, biology, or
> biochemistry. You want the students coming in to their first-year chemistry
> and biology courses with full intellectual momentum.
> Cameron.
Yes --- our full physics course is one year (two semesters) as well as
our full biology course, & chemistry course. I do see the advantage in
your system, though, of wider exposure to more students even if they
don't pursue physics as one of their science interests. It sounds like
your students are required to get exposure to it spread out at least a
couple times over their high school career (as well as broad exposure to
the other sciences.) In our own special case, a students that elects
not to take the upper level physics will get only one brief exposure to
it (less than a semester worth) around their sophomore year. And you
are absolutely correct that one full year of biology followed by ....
virtually nothing of the life sciences for a couple years does make for
poor exposure. I agree that we could learn a thing or two from you up


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Received on Fri Nov 20 19:13:19 2009

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