Date: May 11, 1998
Author: C. Subah Packer and Nancy J. Pelaez
Current pressure on science teachers may have little to do with science as an endeavor. Science curricula have become many isolated small topics with low demands. According to A Splintered Vision: An Investigation of U.S. Science and Mathematics Education (W.H. Schmidt et al., eds., Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997), the average United States science textbook at the eighth-grade level discusses between 50 and 65 topics, compared with seven topics in Germany and five to 15 in Japan.
Teachers often choose to cover the entire textbook because it is easier to follow the activities and schedules marketed with the text than to write a uniquely tailored education program. One popular high school biology textbook (K.R. Miller, J. Levine, eds., Biology, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall, 1993) has 1,077 pages in 49 chapters with about as much vocabulary as...