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The Little-Known Secrets About Math and Science Education


Society & Culture  (tags: americans, children, culture, dishonesty, education, ethics, family, freedoms, government, law, media, politics, religion, rights, safety, society )

Kit
- 651 days ago - takepart.com
Teacher preparedness is lacking in these core subjects--especially in elementary schools. If the United States wants to excel in science and math education, we have a long way to go.



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Kit B. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 8:16 am
How can we expect our students to excel if we do not support our teachers? (Photo: Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images)




If the United States wants to excel in science and math education, we have a long way to go.

Science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) is often touted by education advocates and even President Barack Obama as critical to America’s global education competitiveness. Last July, the Obama Administration even announced a plan to create a national STEM Master Teacher Corps.

But the recent 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education shows we've set ourselves up for a steep uphill battle.

***Take Action at VISIT SITE***

Researchers with Horizon Research Inc., based in Chapel Hill, N.C., with support from the National Science Foundation, surveyed 7,752 science and mathematics teachers in schools across the United States with questions about teacher backgrounds and beliefs, teachers as professionals, science and mathematics courses, instructional objectives and activities, instructional resources, and factors affecting instruction.

This was the fifth such survey. The first was taken in 1977, followed by surveys in 1985-86, 1992, and 2000.

“This report raises considerations for both teacher preparation programs and ongoing professional development,” Jerusha Connor, an education professor at Villanova University, told TakePart.

When it comes to teachers in these subjects, the news is bleak.

In middle schools, only one-third of teachers have a degree in math or math education. In elementary schools, less than half of the teachers surveyed said they felt “very well prepared” to teach science. In kindergarten through third grade, only one in five teach science every day. In those grades, students may receive only 19 minutes a day in science instruction. That’s compared with 90 minutes for reading/language arts and 54 minutes for math.

For students to really understand science, a real-world approach is needed. But the survey shows that less than half of all K-12 teachers include a “heavy emphasis” on science applications.

Teachers also said that several factors inhibited them from teaching science included time for planning; students’ reading abilities; time for professional development and testing/accountability policies.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the survey showed a large gap in science and math instruction in regard to schools that have a high percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunches.

One problem for math and science is the availability of teachers to teach those subjects.

“We’re committed to preparing students to succeed in the worldwide economy, that’s why we’re working together to get additional qualified, caring, and committed math and science teachers into classrooms. Right now, there’s a severe shortage, especially in low-income communities, and that needs to change. But we cannot do it alone,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said in a statement to TakePart.

“There is a clear understanding that our nation’s prosperity is tied to innovation and that innovation will be spurred on by our ability to engage our students in STEM subjects and programs,” he added.

For students, one overall finding from the study, shows that the climate for mathematics instruction is generally more supportive than that for science. “Lack of time and materials for science instruction, especially in the elementary grades, is particularly problematic,” the study notes.

Many schools may offer math specialists or pull-out instruction for enrichment and/or remediation, in large part due to federal funding. But the subject lags in student interest groups. While there are science clubs on school campuses, it is hard to find many campuses with math clubs. Even still, both science and math clubs are more likely to occur in large schools, leaving students who attend small ones without the extracurricular activity in a subject in which they may excel.

This will only become more complicated as states enact Common Core Standards.

"The demands of the Common Core mean that teachers can no longer teach in the way that they were taught," Connor said. "To address these more rigorous expectations, teachers will need considerable time, training, and support to help them to rethink their practice, their discipline, their students' need and capacities. This support will require deep and sustained investments in teacher development."
*****
By: Suzi Parker | Take Part |

Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist whose work frequently appears in The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor. She is the author of two books.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 8:20 am
Thanks Kit---we certainly do have a long way to go here--
 

Lois Jordan (58)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 12:30 pm
Noted. Although the article states that STEM is an uphill battle, it is absolutely one that must be waged. Kids must be engaged in learning and I'm not sure the universities are preparing teachers well enough today to do this on the mass scale that's necessary. Anyone with kids, (or grandkids), attending public schools should learn about this program and how it can be implemented, and then support it.
 

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 1:46 pm
Noted.
 

Yvonne White (233)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 3:49 pm
I have no gripe with my grade school educators in Iuka, the Salem Jr. High teachers included both properly vetted & "coachs" (my 7th grade Science teacher was a Phys. Ed. major who would turn bright red if questioned on a science fact - so it became a hobby of mine..;).. High School in Salem had perfectly decent teachers & a couple Excellent ones.
 

Yvonne White (233)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 3:51 pm
Math IS a science, though it can border on Science Fiction...I think too many teachers & administrators don't realize they do teach science & math without Labeling it as such!
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 3:59 pm

I don't believe you can teach one without the other. That is probably one reason children have problems with these two areas, they need to see the application of one on the other.
 

Yvonne White (233)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 4:09 pm
Exactly! It has to make sense to a child (or adult for that matter!).. Taking time to explain Why this or that matters is the hardest part of teaching, I would think.
 

Connie O. (44)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 5:05 pm
thanks for the info
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 5:09 pm

The hardest part of teaching is always being UP. The students don't need to know if you are having a bad day, or something is not clicking right at home. The easiest part of teaching is keeping the students engaged and interested, and that is all in the presentation.
 

Jennifer C. (169)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 5:12 pm
Thanks.
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 7:08 pm
So the Congressional response is to cut education funding..................
 

Marie W. (67)
Sunday March 17, 2013, 11:54 pm
USA has replaced science with religion- Taliban style.
 

Shanti S. (0)
Monday March 18, 2013, 10:04 am
Thank you.
 

Ro H. (0)
Monday March 18, 2013, 10:59 am
ty
 

Nancy M. (202)
Monday March 18, 2013, 11:47 am
Thanks for posting this Kit.

It is true that new jobs will come from new technologies. We need to be better prepared.
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday March 18, 2013, 11:59 am

Hey Nancy - maybe we could do that with some of thar edumakshun?
 

Darren Woolsey (112)
Monday March 18, 2013, 1:14 pm
This needs to be international, worldwide, and not just confined to some countries...
 

Tom Edgar (56)
Monday March 18, 2013, 3:23 pm
Teaching science without maths just doesn't add up. Teaching any child,without firstly teaching how to think is not teaching at all, it is indoctrination.
 

Theodore Shayne (56)
Monday March 18, 2013, 6:12 pm
Math is the basis of all thought and action.
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday March 18, 2013, 9:09 pm

Critical thinking is the key. Teaching children and young adults to use analysis and what they have learned to decide for themselves. True Theodore - math is the basic, science builds on math.
 

Susanne R. (249)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 8:54 am
If the United States wants to provide its students with good-paying jobs and keep up with the rest of the industrialized world in the areas of science, technology and engineering, it's imperative that emphasis be placed on science and mathematics education. I realize that we have a long way to go to make a STEM Master Teachers Corps a reality, but it's an absolute necessity and should be pursued vigorously.
 

Ge M. (218)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 9:26 am
I recently read an article about teaching in Texas. All of the schools were required to follow a set syllabus and were not allowed to talk to the parents about it. This came to light when a student refused to sing the Mexican national anthem and another mother was appalled to learn that her daughter had to wear the full Muslim getup and learn Islam in her geography lesson. (What has religion got to do with geography?) The first girl was suspended and eventually she was failed in that unit. The second one the teacher was disciplined for commenting on it.

Is this how the school system system supports teachers and students? Parents have a right to know what their children are learning so that they can support them. Hubby & I were able to help our sons with their education as there was nothing being taught that we didn't know. We had a good education which taught us to think for ourselves, research and understand. The Chaos Theory applies to so many subjects.

It seems that the American educational system failed parents and teachers back then and now. Many American schools are badly underfunded and a mother has been charged for stealing money for having her son sent to school "out of district". She was homeless and used her babysitters address. Apparently, she should have used her old address to send her son to school in that area even though she no longer lived in that region. As a child is entitled to free education, how could she have "stolen" money. It seems that adults cannot think for themselves and that students have to learn that it is OK to pledge allegiance to a country in which they were not born in or be punished.

If the system fails in basics then it will not be in a position to teach properly. Teachers must be able to teach science, in the UK primary school teachers (5 - 11 years) have to be able to teach them. In our higher schools (11 -18 years) the teachers must have a degree in the subject that they teach as well as a year learning to teach. There is a shortage of science/maths teachers because so many people do the subject as an interest knowing that it is unlikely that they will be able to use it at work. Not everyone wants to be a teacher! Not that I blame them for that.

 

Kit B. (276)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 9:37 am

I don't know where you get your information. Texas does not allow the Mexican flag, or national anthem. It does have Spanish as one of the choices for foreign language requirements in high school. Texas is about as Islamaphobic as a state can be, though some (few) schools do allow children to wear a scarf, they do not encourage or allow full Islam clothing, some not even for show and tell days.
 

Nancy M. (202)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 10:40 am
I have read a few (ONLY a few) reports of the Mexican Flag being in class on Cinco De Mayo or of saying some Islamic prayer, always assumed that they were isolated incidents.

Texas has always seemed to be Islamophobic to me but I've never been there.

On the other hand, what does it have to do with teaching science and math? I have known plenty of Mexicans and Muslims who were very good at science and math.
 

Tom H. (36)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 1:00 pm
Math and Science is essential for any sort of rounded education. Many comments here are right: you can't learn one without learning something of the other. Here in Alabama, the high school biology texts STILL carry the infamous "disclaimer" that insists that creationism be given the same weight as evolution---specifically in Science classes. *eye roll* So, Alabama kids will by and large depend on their peers from other states to advance our society even a little bit.

For anyone with brains who hasn't already read it, may I recommend heartily Carl Sagan's "Billions and Billions". Or maybe his "Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark". Our society has lost an incredibly gifted and intelligent proponent of Science, but at least Sagan wrote it down. My wife and I apply the rigors of the scientific method whenever we can as we raise our daughter in this mind-numbing society of ours. For example, in my neck of the woods, one travels only a short distance before encountering yard signs proclaiming "Christ is Alive". Once she could read with confidence and increasing comprehension, at about age 6, my daughter asked us what that meant. When we told her---very generically and objectively---she thought for only a few seconds and replied simply, "That doesn't make any sense." Despite the brand of education she will receive from public schools in Alabama, this gives me much hope.

 

. (0)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 9:03 pm
Gillian:

"I recently read an article about teaching in Texas. All of the schools were required to follow a set syllabus and were not allowed to talk to the parents about it."

So was there one set syllabus or does Texas teach more than one course which would make it syllabi? Just asking…

I have to question where this one came from. I wasn't aware that Jihadwatch, Palwatch, Atlas Shrugged and FrontPage Mag branched out and actually did more than just post Islamophobic drivel. Considering your posts are usually from bottom feeding rags, I question the credibility and veracity of the article you are referring to.
 

. (0)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 9:03 pm
"We had a good education which taught us to think for ourselves, research and understand."

IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND EDUCATION, YOU HAVE TO BE EDUCATED.

You wrote of your "good education", yet when I looked at the recent PISA scores, it seems that the UK is faltering. Did you go to school elsewhere?

Reading
6. Canada
26. UK

Mathematics
10. Canada
28. United Kingdom

Science
8. Canada
16. United Kingdom

Could you define what you believe "research" actually is and what it entails? Regurgitating verbatim from bottom tier blogs does not quite define it as research. Cutting & pasting, although an important, useful skill, also fails to qualify as research.
 

. (0)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 9:04 pm
"This came to light when a student refused to sing the Mexican national anthem and another mother was appalled to learn that her daughter had to wear the full Muslim getup and learn Islam in her geography lesson."

Please provide a cited source to this ridiculous claim. Is this a "fact", like the Kareem Going To Israel post?

"Hubby & I were able to help our sons with their education as there was nothing being taught that we didn't know."

WOW! Complete bastardization of the English language.

Also, did you provide them (your sons) with syllabi when you were teaching them the "Chaos Theory" or perhaps you were helping them solve the Riemann hypothesis?
 

. (0)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 9:05 pm
"If the system fails in basics then it will not be in a position to teach properly. Teachers must be able to teach science, in the UK primary school teachers (5 - 11 years) have to be able to teach them. In our higher schools (11 -18 years) the teachers must have a degree in the subject that they teach as well as a year learning to teach…"

First of all, the standards to enter a teacher training program in the United Kingdom seems to be quite low. This may be why the UK ranks so abysmally in the PISA global ranking.

From Teacher Training - British Council

There are three types of entry requirement:

a) general requirements for anyone applying to the institution – for example, proficiency in spoken and written English at a specified level. You should refer to the printed or online prospectus of the institutions you are interested in

b) all entrants to initial teacher training in the UK must have:

a qualification equivalent to GCSE Grade C or above in mathematics and English, and

a qualification equivalent to GCSE grade C or above in science if you intend to teach primary or Key Stage 2/3 (ages 7–14) and you were born on or after 1 September 1979

c) specific requirements for particular courses. PGCE secondary education courses normally require a first degree (or equivalent) substantially related to the subject you intend to teach.

"There is a shortage of science/maths teachers because so many people do the subject as an interest knowing that it is unlikely that they will be able to use it at work."

Since when is mathematics not used and applied in one's work Gillian? Mathematics is drawn on daily at work, home, virtually everywhere. It also teaches one to problem solve, an vitally important skill. Mathematics applies to everything in life whether it be music, art, biology, technology, linguistics, etc.

 
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