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.
The shortage of well-trained science teachers is widely recognized, but the solution to the problem requires first an appreciation of its causes. This little book, which is available free online, addresses the tangible and intangible reasons why fewer talented people choose science teaching as a career or choose not to stay in teaching.
Whether you are trying to choose a school for your child (or deciding which district to move into), evaluate a student or a teacher, comply with the requirements of No Child Left Behind, admit students or apply for admittance, or compare the educational systems of different countries, there is likely to be some kind of a test involved.
I have noticed a significant decline over the years in the ability of my students to estimate quantities, and have attributed it to an increased reliance on calculators and computers, but it may be a consequence of more subtle differences in brain development.