scientific literacy

David Hershey dh321 at
Wed Jan 27 02:10:41 EST 1999

There are all sorts of blue ribbon reports on science education that
have identified key problems but they haven't really seemed to have much
effect in improving the scientific literacy of the general population.
For example "Fulfilling the Promise: Biology Education in the Nation's
Schools" (1990, National Academy Press, Wash. DC).

There is too little money and too much inertia in the present system
that change seems almost impossible. For example, training of precollege
science teachers is not a priority for the vast majority of college
science professors. Precollege science teachers also get far too few
science courses and too many education courses.

I have investigated the state of "botanical literacy" by reviewing all
sorts of biology textbooks, tradebooks, and articles in science
education journals. The magnitude and extent of errors and
misconceptions are truly frightening. Earler this month it was noted
that this group gets many inquiries from students about pseudoscientific
plant projects like effects of music or magnetism on plants. However,
they are not really viable science projects, and there are hundreds of
real projects to choose from.

In an age when there are more PhD plant scientists that ever, it boggles
my mind that biology education materials about plants are so often
written by people without even a BS in a plant science.

David R. Hershey
dh321 at

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