The Most Powerful Education Idea Ever?

→ Warning! I’ve been periodically accused of having some interesting, creative ideas before, but IMHO this may be one of the best ever!

Before I reveal a unique and powerful solution to what is ostensibly our most serious societal peril, we need to be clear about what the peril is. This is a brief outline:

  1. The worst current problem in US K-12 schools (by far), is WHAT our children are being taught — i.e., what is in (or missing from) the curriculum.
  2. IMO the part of the curriculum that has been most extensively corrupted, is the subject area of Science. This is due to 49± states fully (or mostly) adopting the progressive Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which is a frontal assault on traditional Science (e.g., they quietly extracted the Scientific Method, and are subverting Critical Thinking). See this Report for details.
  3. Although you likely haven’t heard it before, this is arguably the most significant attack on America. Every year this results in some 3 million propagandized high school graduates, who shortly become voting citizensThis is unsustainable!
  4. Essentially no one (parents, teachers, legislators, State Boards of Education, scientists, conservative organizations, etc.) is exposing the NGSS for what it is.
  5. Likewise, no one has come up with a realistic alternative to the NGSS, or a practical solution to fix the NGSS — until today!

Now that you have a glimpse of the profound consequences of this major unaddressed societal problem, let’s proceed to a unique and powerful solution…

In most US schools, the Science offerings in K-8 are general and rudimentary. In High School, they get more specific and more advanced. For example, in HS there is typically one year each of such classes as biology, geology, chemistry, and physics. (Sometimes there are quasi-fluff options like environmental science.)

The assumption is that after eight years of general science, students are prepared for (and interested in) more depth in the traditional Sciences. [Note: Based on current NGSS-oriented curriculums, the accuracy of that assumption is highly questionable.]

What’s proposed here is that a mandatory “overview” Science class be given to all 9th graders. An appropriate title might be: Real Science 101 — but be creative with the name!

The mandatory part is because Science is now an essential element of our existence, so every child needs to be taught some in-depth Science basics — which parents assume are being covered. However, due to the proliferation of the NGSS, almost all of the examples below are superficially treatedmistreated, or ignored:

  1. Critical Thinking (Properly defining, understanding, and teaching it. This includes appreciating the numerous, profound benefits of being a critical thinker.)
  2. Linear vs Lateral thinking (there are significant merits for both)
  3. Social Emotional Learning (how Critical Thinking can achieve SEL objectives)
  4. Why is Science under assault? (Science is a gatekeeper, Science is respected, etc.)
  5. Definition of Science (Science is a Process)
  6. History of the Scientific Method (4000± years of a successful process)
  7. The four key elements of a Scientific Assessment (Objective, Comprehensive, Empirical, and Transparent)
  8. Hypothesis vs Theory (explaining the different levels of Scientific certainty)
  9. Scientific responsibility (Is it the proponent’s obligation to prove their claim, or is it the obligation of skeptics to disprove it?)
  10. Science and Public Relations (Is being right enough to win the day?)
  11. Science and Public Policy (How should the two relate?)
  12. Real Science vs political science (not even remotely similar)
  13. Consensus (not a Scientific procedure, but rather a political aspiration)
  14. Peer Review (a good idea that has been co-opted)
  15. Statistics (the good, bad, and the ugly of probabilities, etc.)
  16. Data (there’s data and then there’s data)
  17. Correlation vs Causality (What is the relationship between the two?)
  18. Computer Models and projections (benefits and substantial weaknesses)
  19. Science vs Scientists (Are studies by scientists, Scientific?)
  20. Scientists and Relativism (Does the end objective justify the means?)
  21. Post-Normal Science (Are some technical issues beyond the ability of Science to assess?)
  22. Normative Science (agenda-driven scientists rarely produce real Science)
  23. Technical terminology (conveying hidden messages with carefully chosen words)
  24. The Precautionary Principle (Is this scientific or ideological?)
  25. Intuition vs Science (making assumptions can easily lead to unscientific conclusions)
  26. Scientists vs Engineers (how they differ in objectives, methodology, etc.)
  27. The Mantle of Science (How should bogus claims about Science be exposed?)
  28. Science and the Media (journalism vs advocacy)
  29. Artificial Intelligence (our best friend and our worst enemy)
  30. Science and Religion (Can Science prove, or disprove, the existence of God?)

Note 1: Essentially none of these Real Science matters are covered in the NGSS.

Note 2: Worse, in the NGSS, the opposite message is conveyed about several of these.

Note 3: HS teachers would need to have a Professional Development class to properly teach such a course.

Note 4: This would also be an excellent general Science class for all college freshmen.

Note 5: The above is a suggested chronological order of topics to cover.

After taking such a class:

  1. ALL students would be better prepared to encounter a Science (and pseudo-science) world, even if they never took another Science class,
  2. All students would perform better on state and national Science tests.
  3. Because (if done right) this would likely be perceived to be the most interesting high school course offered (in all subject areas), a higher percentage of students would become STEM-interested.
  4. STEM students would be MUCH better prepared to subsequently take traditional Science classes in high school and college.

For the above four significant reasons, this should become a state-required class, built into each state’s Science Standards.

Note: All of the states’ current Science standards that are NGSS-based, would then need to be reviewed (which was already essential to critically do anyway), as some of Real Science 101 conflicts with NGSS. That’s a good thing…

The bottom line

Requiring this one class would result in extraordinary benefits to students — and subsequently to our society.

PS — This recommendation does not mean that we forget what’s going on in K-8. 9th grade was selected as several of the above topics are too advanced for a 3rd grader. That said, having a more elemental course on Critical Thinking in early grades is very advisable. Interestingly, a textbook publisher is already offering such material.

PPS — When I get the time, I’ll fill out most of the thirty items with helpful reference links. At this point, the objective is just to convey and discuss this significant idea.

PPPS — Since this is of extreme importance, I’m posting the latest version of this material online (as a PDF), where it will be easier to download, etc.

©2024. John Droz, Jr. All rights reserved.

RELATED VIDEO: Government-Run Education

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