More on Science Education in America

John Hawks on Carl Wieman:

Wieman’s initiative at UBC is now looking at how to implement discipline-based education research. He says that science teaching is already beginning to change as the university community learns that becoming an expert is not only about the factual knowledge of a subject.

He pointed to the humanities as a model. “The humanities wouldn’t think of a lecturer coming into class and simply reading Shakespeare to students,” he said. “The students read the content and then come to class and discuss.”

“We’re still learning that in physics.”

Of course we’ve all had those professors who teach a class on a work of literature, and only accept their own interpretation of the work as a legitimate answer. In science, the Socratic style has the potential to be even worse, degenerating into the Ferris-Bueller-like, “anyone…anyone…” kind of questioning. It takes work to get students to follow a chain of reasoning and take the steps on their own.

Sounds like a worthwhile debate.


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