Reforming Science Education: What's Wrong With The Process?

In the years since the launching of Sputnik, Americans have been obsessed with science education reform. "Solutions" vie with "problems" for our attention. Task forces dutifully meet but do little that makes its way to the center of the educational process. What is new and different-a revolutionary curriculum such as New Math, or a process-oriented approach, such as SAPA-is cheered at lift-off but hard to locate after only a few years, The reason? In science education there are strong internal

Sheila Tobias
Feb 17, 1991
In the years since the launching of Sputnik, Americans have been obsessed with science education reform. "Solutions" vie with "problems" for our attention. Task forces dutifully meet but do little that makes its way to the center of the educational process. What is new and different-a revolutionary curriculum such as New Math, or a process-oriented approach, such as SAPA-is cheered at lift-off but hard to locate after only a few years,

The reason? In science education there are strong internal and external mechanisms at work against among innovators, and a fascination on the part of funders for whatever is "new," even at the expense of previous initiatives that demonstrably work.

The reform process itself is not altogether free of blame. Particularly in science education, reformers tend to simplify extremely complex issues by framing them in terms of problems and solutions. Thus, built into the process from the outset is a...

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