MK 354 Spring 2010

April 26, 2010

The Science of Teaching, Perceiving and Learning

Filed under: blog #10 — ElizabethOstebo @ 10:12 am

Last semester, I took a science class to fulfill my general education requirements. I chose a course about meteorology and global climate even though I was a bit skeptical about how well I would do in the class.  My skepticism stemmed from the science classes I took in high school; I thought the topics were interesting, but I struggled with understanding the material.

In his articles for the Huffington Post, Dr. Larry Dossey, author and former Chief of Staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital, presents the idea of how the way science is taught in schools affects how well students perform and learn. Dossey cites Jeremy Rifkin, founder and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C., who writes about “the scientific method,” which is an approach to learning in a scientific environment. Rifkin says:

The scientific method is at odds with virtually everything we know about our own nature and the nature of the world. It denies the relational aspect of reality, prohibits participation and makes no room for empathic imagination. Students in effect are asked to become aliens in the world.

Rifkin seems to believe that the way students are taught to do science contradicts with how the students view the world. In a world of constant online social interaction, Dossey says kids tend perceive science as “an individual, solitary endeavor,” which is not a completely accurate representation of science. This distorted image of science, in combination with how the subject matter is taught and how students prefer to learn, is problematic.

Dossey also cites Jacquelynne Eccles, a senior research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Women and Gender. Eccles claims that “Girls steer away from careers in math, science and engineering because they view science as a solitary rather than a social occupation.” In addition, Eccles describes how there is a need to alter the stereotypical and often inaccurate image of what scientists are like and what they do.

In essence, Dossey, Rifkin and Eccles recognize the need for science to be more appealing and relevant to students. I ended up enjoying the science class I took last semester just for that reason. Not only did I get good grades in the class, but I found the material relevant and useful to my everyday life.

Dr. Larry Dossey’s articles in the Huffington Post:

The Scientific Method: An Education Train Wreck?

Is Technology Making Children More Empathic?

Why Are Children Rejecting Science

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