How is science education in America ?
The certain changes that are taking place in the US aim to better align the culture of science education with the culture of various segments of the US population. The idea behind is making the science field more interactive for the students from various cultures like adding some kitchen methods, kitchen tools, automobiles to demonstrate various principles and processes, bringing girl scientists as the role model for the youth, etc. The school curriculum could be restructured in such a way to create a good relationship of students with the environment and to focus on the environmental issues, the practical solutions and the applications of science, science in music, ecolution, science history and what not. Science teachers, particularly at the K-12 level, are enthusiastic about cross disciplinary approaches that combine natural sciences with technology, mathematics, or the social sciences.
Reforms in Science Education
The trend toward interdisciplinary curricula represents a significant shift in science education in the United States, where traditional organization has followed disciplinary lines, with courses organized in ways that reflect the discipline’s structure. This has been a somewhat contentious issue in the effort to reform science education. Some participants in the debate argue that the contributions have advanced understanding but are not scientific contributions in the sense that they do not “reflect the intellectual and cultural traditions that characterize contemporary science practice.” NRC (1995, p. 21) Some groups have gone so far as to redefine science’s intellectual and cultural traditions in such a way that contributions made by their people are recognised as legitimate science. In the United States, the issues of what constitutes science and whose science it is remain central to the science/culture debate.
As state education officials attempt to implement the national content standards, the United States is seeing an increase in fundamental religious sects, which is causing tensions, particularly in certain southern states. The central organizing theme of the life sciences, evolution, is at stake. Only biblical creation (creation science) should be taught, according to parents. The inclusion of Darwinian evolution in science is strongly opposed by some standards.
Why do US students need a modified science education?
Science education is in a state of flux, making it difficult to characterize science education practice in the United States. Because the federal government does not have the authority to control science education, the practice of science education in the United States has a long history. The national standards lay out a clear vision of what should be. When the vision becomes a reality, all students will have an equal opportunity to learn science.
Many teachers and professors’ pedagogy and attitudes have been that science is for the few. So little thought or effort was put into making science interesting or easy to learn. As a result, only students who were highly motivated and intelligent survived science classes. Thus, education in the natural sciences appears to develop individuals who can reason well, are critical thinkers, are creative problem solvers—in short, are intelligent. But, we must ask, does natural science education produce smarter people, or do smart people survive science as it is taught? While the answer may have been survival in the past, national standards are based on the belief that science is for everyone and can produce smarter people. As a result, the private sector’s motivation may be based on a weak foundation. Assuming that the standards are met, they will provide a vision for science education that, if realized, will provide a foundation for future science education. The ability of science education to develop reasoning and analytical skills is put to the test.
Technically, science education in colleges and universities in the United States is not directly governed by the government. However, federal and state policies have an indirect impact on science education. For example, federal policies supporting basic research have an impact on science education at both private and public institutions of higher learning. Higher education institutions have recently come under scrutiny from the public and the government. The emphasis has been on undergraduate natural science education, which has been motivated by declining enrollments, reductions in federal support for basic research, and the precipitous rise in the cost of undergraduate education.
Natural science education raises special economic concerns because the cost of educating students in the natural sciences is significantly higher than the cost of educating students in disciplines that do not require laboratory work. Another factor is the national standards for K-12 science education. The purposes of science education, the science that all students should learn, curricula structures, and pedagogy required by national standards in these grades contrast sharply with the purposes and practices of higher education in the natural sciences.
The science content taught in higher education, the structural organization of the content, and the pedagogical practices all reflect the primary goal of natural science higher education: to educate practicing scientists.
Previously, high school science content and pedagogical practises were primarily dictated by the requirements for admission to institutions of higher education and reflected the purposes and practises of higher education; however, national standards are now calling for changes in the high school science curriculum to reflect the purposes and practises of higher education. However, in recent years, the best science educators and the most forward-thinking school districts have begun to embrace a more inquiry-based approach: one centered on collaboration, student-led problem solving, and a hands-on, investigative understanding of professional scientists’ methods and goals.
Meanwhile, equity is a major theme in American schools, perhaps the most important theme right now. The best thing about the new science standards is that they provide a thoughtful and coordinated approach that allows educators to inspire future generations of science education for all students, not just those who are “scientifically inclined,” as they were once quaintly referred to.This critique of science education goes far beyond PISA results. But we know how to correct the problem. In the United States, general public knowledge of scientific facts and processes is closely linked to attitudes toward science. People who are more knowledgeable about science are more likely to believe that it plays a positive role in society and has the potential to benefit the general public.
We also need policymakers who care more about what students learn than how well they perform on international exams. Better test results will almost certainly follow if we make a concerted effort as a nation to improve science learning and teaching. Teachers must be included in the policy-making groups that will lead this effort because they, more than anyone, understand the realities of the classroom and can lead science education in the United States from mediocrity to excellence.