Serious concerns with the outcomes of school science education
Major research in recent years indicates serious concerns with the outcomes of school science education, with retention levels beyond the compulsory years, the levels of motivation and engagement in secondary classrooms, and the level of science literacy achieved all being seen as seriously problematic (AAAS, 2000).
Wubbels (Wubbels, 1993) did not find a correlation of these problems to factors intrinsic to the science curriculum. Instead, he suggested that changes in teacher interpersonal behaviour seemed to play a greater role in student outcomes than the curriculum.
It thus appears that teacher classroom practices were primarily the key to addressing the problems in relation to science development in schools. While a supportive school environment seems relevant, pedagogical teaching practices appear to play the most significant role.
Mr. Wellington Grey writes "My pupils will sit an exam and earn a GCSE in physics, but that exam doesn't cover anything I recognise as physics". It appears to have slipped Mr. Grey's attention that our Western Modern Science (WMS) is not the only authoritative knowledge system. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Indigenous Knowledge (IK) are equally legitimate sciences and Mr. Grey should be able to adjust his pedagogical teaching practices accordingly. In my opinion, Mr. Grey's letter to the DfES does, however, not support his ability to make this transition to this new science curriculum.
If I were a teacher, I would certainly choose not to voice my own deficiencies in quite such an open way.
AAAS, 2000: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Designs for science literacy [Project 61] , OUP: New York
Wubbels, 1993: Wubbels, T., Teacher-student relationships in science and mathematics classes Vol 1., pp. 65-72, Curtin University of Technology: Perth, Australia