Is there something wrong with American schools?
One might expect that an especially memorable chess match would have been a world championship game, or at least a tournament competition. However, one of the most famous matches ever played was an exhibition that had no significance for any competition.
We teachers of science tend to assume that our students are largely rational - that they can be brought to understanding through a gradual accumulation of experiences that lead to conclusions about how the world works, and that nature can be led to disclose herself through a logical process.
It's about time that somebody should write this book, and there is no better "somebody" for the job than Edward Tufte, author of thoughtful and beautiful books about the presentation of scientific data (see Hal's Picks for August, 1998 and
I usually avoid writing in this space about materials that one might use directly in the classroom, since I am trying encourage teachers to expand their scope. However, this two -volume set recently published by the Royal Society of Chemistry is enough to make me change the rules.
"A Friend of the Earth" is a novel that alternates in time between the near-present and about twenty-five years in the future, when the worst nightmares of the environmental movement have come to pass. Global warming has turned Southern California into a terrible place to live; violent storms alternate with 130 degree days.
This report is potentially very important. On the other hand, it could have no impact whatsoever. If Washington reads the Commission findings and recommendations, and funds the five billion dollar programs it recommends, science and mathematics education in the United States could get the "shot in the arm" that it so desperately requires. "A Nation at Risk" was published in 1983.
Computers play an increasing role in the life of children (along with everyone else). How much is too much? More and more educators, physicians, and child development professionals are beginning to recognize that time in front of CRT (whether on a computer or a TV) is time that is not spent in interaction with the real world.
We all, and both candidates for President, agree that that our educational systems need to adhere to the highest standards of excellence, that "social promotion" in schools is a bad thing, that students should have to demonstrate basic competences before they receive high school diplomas, and that schools, teachers, and students ought to be rewarded or punished on the basis of judgements render