Scientific Literacy

Monique Reed monique at
Wed Feb 3 16:20:06 EST 1999

I agree--it would really help to have experts come into the schools to share 
what we know.  My experience with this is that I have volunteered to go to 
local schools to talk about botany, lead field trips, do show and tell with 
unusal plants.  How many times have I been taken up on the offer?  None.  The 
few times a teacher has approached *me* and made room in her lesson plan for 
an activity, it has gone well, the students have been enthusiastic, and 
"something got learned."

I get the impression from friends of mine in elementary through high school 
education that teachers are so hemmed in by lesson plan requirements, time 
constraints, budget limitations, and miscellaneous regulations that there 
isn't a lot of room for creative curriculum.  Only those teachers who really 
fight to go beyond the basic class structure are able to accomplish more than 
traditional coverage of lesson material.  They're told to teach A, B, and C 
because that is on the state assessment exam; the students know they have to 
know only A, B, and C to pass the state assessment exam--and no one thinks 
that D, E, and F might be fun, interesting, or useful.

Monique Reed, botanist
Biology Department
Texas A&M University

>I want to thank David Kramer for his thoughtful comments on teaching scientific
>literacy at the elementary school level.  Too few of us have any hands on
>experience with students OR teachers from that level, and we really must adjust
>our expectations according to their generalist approach to teaching.  We are all
>so used to being specialists, and working with High School teachers who are also
>specialists.  One approach to improving science projects and understanding the
>process of science at the elementary school level is to have experts (us) come
>into the schools and work directly with the students and teachers.  This
>approach seems to me to be the most immediate solution and perhaps the most
>direct solution.  Perhaps workshops to train the specialists how to interact
>with 5th graders would be more valuable than workshops where the specialists
>train the generalists how to think like a specialist.

>Bernadette Roche
>Department of Biology
>Loyola College
>4501 N. Charles St. 
>Baltimore, MD 21210
>broche at

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