Sunday, December 18, 2005


The Fordham Institute has published a major review of state science standards. According to the study, a handful of states has managed to produce respectable standards. However, the vast majority of state standards is afflicted with numerous problems, most notably with the "constructivist" anti-knowledge plague:

Educational Constructivism
Constructivism is not new. It was evident in the first draft
(1992) of the National Science Education Standards, where
it took the form of a claimed postmodern philosophy of science. That, in turn, incorporates one kind of constructivism (“social” constructivism) about knowledge, including scientific knowledge.The adopted philosophy was an application to learning standards of the increasingly popular educational constructivism,whose main tenet is that learning happens only by an individual’s action, his or her making and doing things in the world, not as a result of any conveyance of knowledge (as in teaching).10 A revision of that early draft eliminated the praise of postmodernism but left in place the notion that a learner can do no more than to construct knowledge, which is therefore personal, from things and events in his or her sensed environment. It is supposed to follow from this that scientific knowledge cannot be transferred from one person—a teacher (or from a book)—to another. The learning expectations of standards should therefore focus much more on process, the “doing”of science by the student, and much less on its reputed facts.11
The California science framework has received top marks and can be read here.

1 comment:

NYC Educator said...

I think there's validity in the supposition that we learn by doing. The problem occurs when people, who may otherwise be rational, need to claim we can't learn any other way.

Why does everyone who devises an educational philosophy need to pretend he's just come down a mountain bearing the Ten Commandments?