From the start, author Chris McGowan makes a very sound argument that there isn’t enough practical science shown and taught at school, contributing to why fewer school pupils are seeing science as a career. Although his book, ‘Saving Science Class’ is targeted at the USA and Canada, the same applies to the UK and probably other countries as well. Considering we live in an age where we are dependent on science and technology, you would have thought we would be turning out more scientists not less. He turns out a good case of contrast of the past and the present.
McGowan goes through his own school and teaching experiences, giving so many examples of science experiments that whether you’re an adult or child, you might get the urge to try them out. As he gives diagrams, this should make them easier to follow. Parents might even help children to do them. Although I’m not sure that this was his intention with this book, McGowan should certainly consider doing a book on this as well.
It’s when he examines the American/Canadian use of a teaching structure called ‘A Framework For K-12 Science Education’ that he really goes to town about its failings and I can understand why. Theory and computer models but no real experience. Hands up those of you who would like to be operated on by a surgeon or piloted a plane with no practical experience? Now apply that to science. If a school curriculum gives its students no practical experience in any of the sciences, let alone be teaching technology at the same time, you have to wonder what planet they last taught on. That’s what happens today and as McGowan points out the only practical his grandson was give was how to dissolve and saturate a glass of water with salt. With the USA, this ‘Framework’ was devised by a committee where teachers had the least say. His example of those who can’t work, teach and those who can’t teach become their inspectors sounds like the Peter Principle – rising to the height of their level of incompetency. I can share McGowan’s distress. How do you get smart people when the incompetent don’t want to be shown up or worse not allowing for a proper education. No wonder we aren’t getting enough scientists. I have a feeling I would walk through America’s science exams today.
Having teaching described as changing to ‘the sage on the stage to the guide on the side’ is worrying. I do have to wonder if you people reading this book will come away equally angry but if you’re a younger generation, then you’ve probably been through this and won’t know any different. If you belong to the latter group, look through the scientific experiments shown in this book and if you school isn’t giving your children practical science, insist they teach it. We need more scientists, not less. We certainly need more who know what they are doing. McGowan’s points on pollution and fracking at the last chapter also tends to indicate that money at political level is talking more than scientific conclusions. Hardly surprising with this education or lack of it.
One thing. The cover shows a child holding two test tubes far too close to her nose. When I was at school, I was taught to waft the smells to my nose than do a direct sniff after deadening my sense of smell.
(pub: Prometheus Books. 302 page illustrated indexed hardback. Price: $25.00 (US), $26.50 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-63388-293-5. Ebook: Price: $12.99 (US), $14.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-63388-271-5. Ebook: Price: $11.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-6388-518-8)
check out website: www.prometheusbooks.com