Robert Kleinow is currently a science curriculum consultant at Heartland AEA. Below Robert shares his views on the Next Generation Science Standards.
Will this one be different?
What is science? How educators, and we as a nation, answer that question will go a long way in determining how it is learned. If one views science as a “way of knowing” centered on the principles of questions, claims, evidence, and reasoning, the instruction would be vastly different than if one viewed it as a collection of facts and information.
For most, “science” in school has been more about the regurgitation of facts with the hope that filling all minds with these facts will lead to a science-literate society than it has been about “doing science.”
The Symphony of Science - The Poetry of Reality
So what is Science? Well known leaders in the science community chime in with one view of “what science is,” the importance of “not knowing,” and the quest for answers. (An Anthem for Science)
On the other hand the story of John Gurdon, 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology, who was told early on that “because he will not listen, but will insist on doing his work in his own way. …. if he can't learn simple biological facts he would have no chance to find the work of a Specialist,….” gives us a vivid example of how science is so much more than learning facts and following a recipe (Davis, 2012).
When reviewing a science textbook, noted physicist Richard Feynman was once reported to have said, “I do not see any science in here, only information.” Yet it is that very information that we seem to base most measures in science achievement. Is this because they are accurate measures of science learning and potential or because they are easier to quantify?
The Next Generation Science Standards, with a March of 2013 expected release date, will force Iowa, along with all other states, to decide if these new standards, written as performance expectations, are indeed the next “best answer” at achieving a scientifically literate society.
The last major release of science standards was in 1996 with the National Science Education Standards which had four underlying goals:
Now seventeen years later how effective have we, as a system, been at achieving these goals? What assessments have been developed to measure our success? How will the new Next Generation Science Standards document be different? What have we learned?
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