Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Letter to Science Class

Dear Science Class,

     I never thought I would say this to you, but I am mad at you.  I have loved science since I was a little kid.  To me,  science involved constantly observing the world around us and wondering "Why".  Science was the attempt to make sense of the world around us.  It was an opportunity to explore, investigate, predict, test, experiment, and explain.  It was the perfect blend of math, logic, literacy, and technology.  Ultimately, science was a "way of thinking".  In my opinion, it is the best way of thinking.  Science is the way in which all of us answer questions such as:
    -  Which car should I purchase?
    -  What should I wear today?
    -  What should I say in a job interview?
    -  How can I be more influential?
    -  What will cure cancer?
    -  What is the best diet for me?
    -  What can I innovate?  How?
    -  What is the best way to care for my pets & my plants?
    -  .... and thousands of other questions that arise daily.

Some are much better than others at answering these questions.  I can't help but think that many of the problems that exist in today's world, including obesity, the high divorce rate, stress levels, binge spending, poor purchasing decisions, a collapsed housing market, etc..... are due to faults in our thinking.

Science is thinking.  Yet, you had to ruin this.   While Literacy Class was busy proving why it was a skill that is critically important to incorporate into every classroom (and it is that important), you were being stubborn and refusing to change.  You have officially become a GIGANTIC BODY OF FACTS.  You do not teach thinking.  Sure, you teach PHEOC and IV & DV, but you don't even bother to relate it to your students' real lives.  Science is awesome because it explores the unknown, yet you spend every day trying to convince students that there is a right answer to everything in science.... and you know the answer..... and it is at the back of the book.  Yuck!

Instead of embracing science as a way of thinking, and following the lead of literacy, proving that you are a skill that is critically important to incorporate into every classroom (which science is that important), you have remained a big fat body of facts that students are required to memorize.  Mitosis, the Kreb's Cycle, each step of photosynthesis, chemical equations, atomic mass, Newton's Laws, the periodic table, the organelles of the cell, etc...  You have completely lost touch with reality.  Sure, many students do memorize all of these facts, because we put enough fear into them to make them do so, but they don't remember these facts for very long.  I taught a Health Careers course, which included Juniors and Seniors looking to going into the medical field and surveyed them to see how they did on their Biology Finals two years earlier.  Almost all of them said they received A's.  I then allowed them to retake that very same Biology final.  The result:  students averaged a 37%.  Many students responded to their score saying that they "don't remember that stuff", or "why would I still remember that".

I have heard so many students say that they "HATE" science.  Wow!  When I first started hearing that, it was hard for me to comprehend.  I didn't think it was possible to hate "learning how to think more efficiently" as that would make every aspect of your life better.  Eventually, however, I understood what they meant.  They not hate science.... they hate Science Class, because it has become one disgusting, insurmountable, rigorous, irrelevant body of facts.

I went to school to be able to teach you.  I have taught you for over 12 years, but I am afraid you are disappearing.  Other courses, such as Industrial Tech and Family & Consumer Ed have happily stepped in and started teaching "science" as a skill and a way of thinking, making you almost useless.  These days, the #1 place to learn about "science" in school, isn't even in Science Class.  That is sad.  I will miss you.

Shame on you Science Class for not embracing science.


Oliver Schinkten


  1. It's heartbreaking to think that is the direction science education could take isn't it? In Australia we seem fortunate, by comparison, that our science curriculum's aims don't even mention 'knowledge' until after a long list of other goals about curiosity, inquiry, problem solving, understanding the relationships between science and culture, communication. Even when it does, it's couched in the idea that it's all about using that knowledge to make decisions. Many Australian teachers have approached this new curriculum with rather luke warm interest but I love it because it focusses on those things that made me, like you, love science.

  2. Wow! Lucky! Our science curriculum is insane. Our tests are flooded with the lowest level type of questions (memorization) one can imagine. All students do in many, many classrooms is memorize and regurgitate. There are wonderful science teachers, but they are working against the system. It is so incredibly sad. It is almost as if our education system is yet to find out that the internet has been invented.

    Thank you for your comments! It is interesting to hear what is going on in other parts of the world!


Please engage in the discussion. I would love to hear what you have to say!