One would expect a long-time educator like me to know more about the largest university in the United States (enrollment of 530,000) and I have wondered what the University of Phoenix is really like. I see their large office buildings with prominent signs everywhere but, since they do not offer programs in science, their activities are essentially orthogonal to what I do.
Just about all of us who teach introductory courses in chemistry have a significant fraction of our students who intend to apply to medical schools and attempt to become doctors. However, very few of my students have a good idea of what that career path looks like, beyond graduation with an undergraduate degree.
Magic shows don t work on children if they are not old enough to have developed the expectation that causes have predictable effects. They accept what their senses tell them, without constructing models that that make the surprising result unexpected.
I bought "Mistakes Were Made ..." for on a long plane ride, thinking that it would be a light, entertaining read. It did turn out to be very entertaining, but it also has affected the way I think about politics, law, ethics, and the teaching of science.
In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the bill that made No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. It was a culmination of sorts of tides that had been growing for years, through both the Clinton and Bush administrations, toward sweeping reform in US schools.
Could it be possible that much of the education "reform" that everybody seems to be seeking might be accomplished through teaching teachers how to use a toolbox of effective classroom management techniques?
Chemistry is a beautiful subject. Beyond the intellectual satisfaction of finding out how things work, there is also aesthetic reward in an optically-active crystal viewed in polarized light, a colorful reaction, or even scientific glassware.
One of the most memorable lectures I have ever experienced was given by Nobelist Willard Libby. He spoke at University of California, Irvine in 1968 or 1969, but the essence of his talk about the atmosphere of Venus is still fresh in my mind because he told such an engaging, entertaining story.
The world has never more needed public understanding of science than it does now, and those of us in science education have a special obligation in this regard. The answers to health care, climate change, conservation of the environment, and so forth are not going to be found in science alone, but if they are to be addressed rationally, science literacy will be necessary.
America's public schools are in trouble, and there are few who would disagree. But despite billions of dollars spent in "reform" efforts, little real progress seems to be occuring. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a step (or a misstep, perhaps) toward greater accountability by schools for student achievement.