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Is the real problem with science education today lack of support for the Consensus?

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Useful statistics here but note the context:

Data show many of the 69,000 U.S. middle school science teachers have no scientific background. Almost a quarter have neither a science degree nor full certification to teach science, according to a 2017-18 survey by the U.S. Department of Education. At schools where at least three-quarters of students are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch, 32 percent of middle school science teachers have neither a science degree nor certification to teach science.

The problem isn’t necessarily state teacher certification requirements. Kentucky, for example, requires middle-school teachers seeking certification to have a science teaching degree and pass proficiency tests.

But the state’s teacher shortage means there’s no guarantee that there are teachers with a science background in classrooms. In a 2019 survey of the state’s school principals, 81 percent reported they could find few or no satisfactory applicants for middle school science jobs.

Steven Yoder, “Shaky Science Instruction Pervades Middle School Classrooms” at Undark (April 25, 2022)

The trouble is, the context of the article is an attack on a teacher who doubts the COVID orthodoxy. We would want to avoid the weeds for sure but in principle it is reasonable to doubt the COVID orthodoxy.

There needs to be an approach to science that is not simply an enforcement of orthodoxy.

3 Replies to “Is the real problem with science education today lack of support for the Consensus?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    This is a permanent situation in America. It’s not quite as bad in Europe where vocational training is far more common and respectable.

    School “science” has been shaky for many decades. Mostly we just memorize fashionable theories as verbal statements. Physical experimentation was always rare, decreased even more from “animal rights”, and ceased when online learning became mandatory in the 2020 hoaxocaust.

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    But graduates with a science background don’t see a financial payoff when they choose teaching.

    Getting a science degree is expensive and difficult – and then using that degree to teach middle school will pay roughly the same as teachers in other fields.
    If the interest is in teaching kids, then a cheaper and easier subject-area would work. If the interest is in teaching kids science, then a certain level of belief in the greatness of science, or some devotion to that field – to want to sacrifice income and bring it to kids — would be needed. It would be like a religious mission, spreading the word on science.
    There are probably many altruistic teachers wanting that, especially with interest in forming kids in understanding of medicine, health-care or psychiatry, perhaps. There are undoubtely some apostles of atheism who want to proclaim Darwin’s teachings in the classrooms.
    But even with all of that, when you don’t need to go through the effort and cost to get a science degree and can teach just based on a competency exam, that will be the first choice for people.
    The other big problem is how science continues to discredit itself and lose credibility and respect in the population.
    The persecution of doctors offering alternative treatments during the pandemic is known by a surprisingly large part of the population and mainstream science suffers from that.

  3. 3
    EvilSnack says:

    When I was a student the the US public schools, science education was essentially non-existent until the ninth grade. Sure, there were mandatory courses, but a child who failed to learn anything was never made to go back and try again. I remember this because science was always far more interesting to me than the other subjects and I was chronically disappointed that there wasn’t more of it and that it was so lacking in rigor.

    It doesn’t help the US public school situation that only a masochist would agree to be a teacher in the system. Every time I talk with someone working in the system (I am a former teacher), the one item we can always agree on is that the establishment is in the hands of living embodiments of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

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