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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Boring Science Teachers new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #5680412 - 02/14/13 11:25 PM

I loved Asimov's science books. I wasn't quite such a big fan of his science fiction.

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russell23
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Reged: 05/31/09

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Boring Science Teachers new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5681181 - 02/15/13 11:10 AM

As a science teacher let me share a few of the challenges in teaching science to high school students:

1. Packed curriculum. I'm a firm believer in the less is more approach to education. In other words I would rather cover fewer concepts in more depth so that they have actual meaning than to cover a huge range of concepts in such shallow depth that they become a string of memorized facts. Unfortunately - state curricula typically try to pack in way too much material - and then leave all of it subject to the state "standardized" tests.

2. Standardized tests. It is a significant challenge to teach any content laden subject - such as science - and not find yourself tailoring instruction to the end of the year state exam. Frankly, in the Chemistry curriculum I teach for New York state, there are too many things that might be on the test that I feel cannot be taught to the level of depth for any real understanding or I would not "get through all the material" (a popular refrain among teachers dealing with an overpacked state curriculum) students need to "know" for the state exam.

3. Math skills. When you teach a science - the reality is that many of the concepts are better understood if the students can handle some math. Unfortunately, the last 15 years has seen a big push to revise math curricula and make students learn concepts earlier than they are developmentally ready to learn. There is also less emphasis in the early grades on memorization of basic math facts. So when they get to high school science too many of them are not proficient enough in the basic math operations to really keep up with the calculation work that helps expand an understanding of science concepts.

4. If it is not Edutainment it is poor teaching. By the time students get to high school they've had years of intruction in which "fun" is the eductational objective. To be considered a good teacher we must be "edutainers". Now there is a certain amount of real need here. You're not doing a good job as a teacher if you don't "engage" most of your students in the learning process. However, by the time students get to high school they've spent years doing "projects" ( ie. meaningless powerpoints and coloring activities) and working in groups on "cooperative learning" activities, and listening to teachers apologize to the students any time they have to present material via lecture "Now I know this isn't going to be real exciting but we need to get through this."

And in that climate as a high school teacher you have to be a really good lecturer to engage your students - especially as a science teacher because science is such a content driven subject.

So I do understand the premise behind this thread - and some of the teaching approaches described in this thread are simply horrendous. I have my own examples. My daughter's have a history teacher that simply assigns questions at the end of the chapter of the book. He became so predictable that my daughters started doing the questions ahead of time. When he gave the assignment they would walk up and hand it to him as soon as he finished stating what it was. Pretty funny tactic on their part, but it hasn't changed his teaching strategies as my subsequent daughters have found out.

5. Teachers as the scapegoat. There has been a belief in our society that failures in education rest solely on the shoulders of the teachers. The belief is that to fix education we must fix the way teachers teach. Certainly you can identify bad teachers, but that is only part of the puzzle. The bigger part is bad parenting. Why is it that whenever I get a student from family "X" they are "A" students and students from family "Y" are "F" students? It couldn't possibly be that the students from family X are expected to study for their classes and get high grades whereas in family Y the parents never read to their kids when they were young, never made education a priority, or even pay attention to what their kids are doing? No - it is always the teachers fault. Our policy makers keep thinking that they can fix educational results by making the teachers jump through more hoops to prove we are "effective" while never pressuring the parents to likewise be more effective.

Dave


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LivingNDixieModerator
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Re: Boring Science Teachers new [Re: russell23]
      #5681266 - 02/15/13 11:52 AM

One major problem I saw when I was in college was there is way too many people majoring in education but focusing on every subject but math or a science.

We have way too many elementary education majors and the like. But we can not get anyone to major in science or math education. I blame that on the low pay. Why should someone good at Math or Science go into teaching when they can be an engineer or scientist and make double or triple the money.

Factor in NCLB and one can see why young people like me changed from a science education career.


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Skip
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Reged: 01/23/08

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Re: Boring Science Teachers new [Re: russell23]
      #5681872 - 02/15/13 04:11 PM

Quote:

Our policy makers keep thinking that they can fix educational results by making the teachers jump through more hoops to prove we are "effective" while never pressuring the parents to likewise be more effective.




Dave, I couldn't agree more with this. But the reason for this is probably obvious to you and others. There is almost NOTHING you can do to the parents to make them have better parenting skills. On the other hand, you CAN do something to the teachers (threaten their jobs for example).

My wife was a high school science teacher for several years. At numerous parent-teacher conferences, when the student was underperforming, she would ask the parent(s) what were the consequences for the student having a poor performance record. In other words, what are you doing to correct the poor performance. Almost invariably the answer was a strident, "That's none of your business. Your job is to teach my child, I'll handle being the parent." after a few of these and some parent complaints, she was told by the administration that she stop asking this question of the parents.

She was a good teacher. But eventually the stress got to her, she quit teaching and went back to school and got her Doctor of Pharmacy. She is now a pharmacist where she has to put up with a lot less bad parenting and a lot less stress. Oh, and the pay is a lot better too! She is happier and as a result, I'm happier, although I do have to call her "Doctor" now. . Life is good.

Sometimes really excellent teachers make significant strides in spite of bad parents (or probably because of good ones). But usually it just gets worse. And the education problems in our country go on and on and on...


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Boring Science Teachers new [Re: russell23]
      #5682713 - 02/16/13 01:24 AM

Quote:

As a science teacher let me share a few of the challenges in teaching science to high school students:

1. Packed curriculum. I'm a firm believer in the less is more approach to education. In other words I would rather cover fewer concepts in more depth so that they have actual meaning than to cover a huge range of concepts in such shallow depth that they become a string of memorized facts. Unfortunately - state curricula typically try to pack in way too much material - and then leave all of it subject to the state "standardized" tests.

2. Standardized tests. It is a significant challenge to teach any content laden subject - such as science - and not find yourself tailoring instruction to the end of the year state exam. Frankly, in the Chemistry curriculum I teach for New York state, there are too many things that might be on the test that I feel cannot be taught to the level of depth for any real understanding or I would not "get through all the material" (a popular refrain among teachers dealing with an overpacked state curriculum) students need to "know" for the state exam.

3. Math skills. When you teach a science - the reality is that many of the concepts are better understood if the students can handle some math. Unfortunately, the last 15 years has seen a big push to revise math curricula and make students learn concepts earlier than they are developmentally ready to learn. There is also less emphasis in the early grades on memorization of basic math facts. So when they get to high school science too many of them are not proficient enough in the basic math operations to really keep up with the calculation work that helps expand an understanding of science concepts.

4. If it is not Edutainment it is poor teaching. By the time students get to high school they've had years of intruction in which "fun" is the eductational objective. To be considered a good teacher we must be "edutainers". Now there is a certain amount of real need here. You're not doing a good job as a teacher if you don't "engage" most of your students in the learning process. However, by the time students get to high school they've spent years doing "projects" ( ie. meaningless powerpoints and coloring activities) and working in groups on "cooperative learning" activities, and listening to teachers apologize to the students any time they have to present material via lecture "Now I know this isn't going to be real exciting but we need to get through this."

And in that climate as a high school teacher you have to be a really good lecturer to engage your students - especially as a science teacher because science is such a content driven subject.

So I do understand the premise behind this thread - and some of the teaching approaches described in this thread are simply horrendous. I have my own examples. My daughter's have a history teacher that simply assigns questions at the end of the chapter of the book. He became so predictable that my daughters started doing the questions ahead of time. When he gave the assignment they would walk up and hand it to him as soon as he finished stating what it was. Pretty funny tactic on their part, but it hasn't changed his teaching strategies as my subsequent daughters have found out.

5. Teachers as the scapegoat. There has been a belief in our society that failures in education rest solely on the shoulders of the teachers. The belief is that to fix education we must fix the way teachers teach. Certainly you can identify bad teachers, but that is only part of the puzzle. The bigger part is bad parenting. Why is it that whenever I get a student from family "X" they are "A" students and students from family "Y" are "F" students? It couldn't possibly be that the students from family X are expected to study for their classes and get high grades whereas in family Y the parents never read to their kids when they were young, never made education a priority, or even pay attention to what their kids are doing? No - it is always the teachers fault. Our policy makers keep thinking that they can fix educational results by making the teachers jump through more hoops to prove we are "effective" while never pressuring the parents to likewise be more effective.

Dave




I can't find anything in here to criticize. Except a minor quibble on point #3: The push towards reducing the emphasis on basic arithmetic competence in favor of premature advanced concepts goes back a lot further than 15 years. It caused me fits when I was in elementary school back in the 1960s.

I nearly always agree with arguments that teaching critical thinking is better than rote memorization. Except when it comes to basic arithmetic. I think being able to rapidly parrot memorized times tables and the fundamental numerical relationships early on lays the foundation for being able to understand them in greater depth later. The numeracy needs to be established early, but the capacity for truly critical and analytical thinking doesn't develop until the brain matures a bit more.


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nighty
sage
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Reged: 12/31/06

Loc: 75w39n
Re: Boring Science Teachers new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5682955 - 02/16/13 08:30 AM

The posts by Dave, LivingNdixie and IIanitedave have it pegged.

As a science teacher I see one other factor. Some science teachers are just boring people. I am considered weird because I enjoy science and have hobbies that involve science. I have built a physics course around the projects in my workshop. We use the textbooks as weights or props for ramps. I can do this because 12th graders are not state tested where I teach. I fly multicopters to get students thinking about forces.

I was the only science teacher in my masters education program. Most of the professional development I have experienced was ruined by the uninterested teachers.


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FirstSightModerator
Duke of Deneb
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Reged: 12/26/05

Loc: Raleigh, NC
Re: Boring Science Teachers new [Re: LivingNDixie]
      #5684434 - 02/16/13 11:28 PM

Quote:


Factor in NCLB and one can see why young people like me changed from a science education career.




What does "NCLB" stand for? Presumably not "No Clue, Little Boy". (OK, that whas just a wild, churlish guess. What does it really stand for?)

EDIT: DUH! NEVER MIND. I recognized what it really stands for a minute after I posted the above. "No Child Left Behind". Except I still like "No Clue Little Boy" better as an answer.


Edited by FirstSight (02/16/13 11:31 PM)


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Scott Horstman
Vendor - Backyard Observatories
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Reged: 03/11/04

Loc: Here, There and Everywhere
Re: Boring Science Teachers new [Re: russell23]
      #5685498 - 02/17/13 04:40 PM

Quote:

never pressuring the parents to likewise be more effective.







It is a sad fact that too many parents aren't their kid's primary teachers. Whether because both parents are working 12 hours a day or because they just really don't get the responsibilities of good parenting, too many kids are left totally at the mercy of the state and the luck of the draw if they have good caring teachers at school.


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