Re: DISCUSS digest 8

From: Craig Fox <>
Subject: Re: DISCUSS digest 8
Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 09:11:07 -0800

This discussion brings up a host of ideas that I have been struggling
with for 30 years teaching science.  Kye brings up some great points,
especially about the amount of content.  There is no doubt in my mind
that less is more.  If I can develop a theme the kids are interested in,
and then look for connections (and have the kids do the same), it
becomes a more realistic and interesting curriculum for them and me too.
Every year is something different, full of risks and surprises, but
always challenging and rewarding.  Following a publisher's text and
guiding the process with a multiple choice test is just not a real life
experience.  If I miss some content, so be it.  The world is just
progressing too fast for my students to memorize everything and learn
all the terminology...just like it is for their parents in their jobs! 
I would rather give them the tools of science and let them practice on
some relevant subjects that interest them.  I find that with this
approach, my students (honors and standard) keep recalling previous
learning and weave it into the present problem facing us, much like the
t.v. series CONNECTIONS.  I personally feel that standardized testing is
the easy way out for school administrations and state boards.  It culls
out the multiple intellingences Howard Gardner refers to, and we as a
society lose some very creative minds.  One solution is to create more
realistic training for teachers in their college years and then maintain
that support with ongoing seminars and curriculum building while
teachers teach.  The Japanese teachers have far more group planning time
I understand.  At present, teachers are isolated and go it alone...and
texts and tests are the easiest way out.  My original enthusiasm for
teaching the way I do now came from a unique experimental opportunity
many years ago.  An English/literature/art teacher, social science
teacher and I (science teacher) decided to teach about the history of
America from the Civil War to present.  I learned SO MUCH from my
colleagues and still integrate those ideas into my science curriculum
years later.  It just makes sense.  Happy New Year to you all!