ERIC Number: ED476621
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Jul
Three-Year High School Science Core Curriculum: A Framework.
Bardeen, Marjorie; Freeman, Wade; Lederman, Leon; Marshall, Stephanie; Thompson, Bruce; Young, M. Jean
It is time to start a complete re-structuring of the high school science sequence: new content, new instructional materials, new laboratories, new assessment tools, and new teacher preparation. This white paper initiates re-structuring by proposing organization, pedagogy, and content for a new sequence of science courses. The proposal respects the National Science Education Standards of the NRC and the AAAS Benchmarks concerning what should be taught and how it should be taught. It analyzes current and developing relationships among the traditional disciplines of science to find new organizational coherence in content. It adopts recent 'best practice' advances in pedagogical methods. To achieve to the level of the standards, high school graduates must study at least three years of science and three years of mathematics. The science curriculum for these years should maintain the identity of the traditional disciplines but link them to give a coherent, meaningful picture of science as a whole. In this paper, scientific advances in physics, chemistry, biology, and earth and space science motivate the design of a teachable sequence that starts in the ninth grade with mostly physics (Science 1), continues in the next year with mostly chemistry (Science 2), and concludes with mostly biology (Science 3). This is the exact reverse of the traditional order of study of these disciplines. The paramount aim is an integrated sequence. Beyond reversing the traditional order of subjects, we propose modification and blurring of the traditional disciplinary boundaries. Thus, the curriculum emphasizes the revisiting of crucial concepts from new perspectives and with higher levels of detail from year to year. Another aim is to give students the opportunity to apply their new knowledge and so to value it. A third is to show teachers and administrators how recent findings about how students learn can be applied to the teaching of high school science. Considerations of equity and social justice motivate us strongly in this proposal. A more logical 'best-practice' presentation of critical science concepts should enable students better to learn at the level of the national standards and more despite barriers from previous experience. All high school graduates, if properly instructed, can learn and understand what they need to cope with the changes science will bring in the 21st century. The current national standards are, in fact, minimum standards: all students in the nation's high schools should succeed at least to the level they define. This proposal for reform of high school science education is another step in a continuing sequence of science education reforms that has been lurching on with more advances than retreats since the postwar recognition of the power of science, the endless frontier manifesto of Vannevar Bush. (Contains 67 references.) (Author)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Department of Energy, Washington, DC.; Department of Education, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Prepared by Project ARISE: American Renaissance in Science Education, funded by the Illinois State Board of Education Scientific Literacy program. Also supported by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Friends of Fermilab, Batavia, Illinois. Based on results of workshop held in February 19-22, 1998.