Monday, February 20, 2006

Disconnect on education

Parents, Students Fine With Math, Science:
Only half of children in grades six to 12 say that understanding sciences and having strong math skills are essential for them to succeed after high school.

For example, 62 percent of parents say it is crucial for most of today's students to learn high-level math, like advanced algebra and calculus.

The story changes, though, when parents talk specifically about their kids' schools, and when the children relay their own experiences.

Students put a lack of science and math near the bottom of problems they see at school. They are much more worried about bad language, cheating or the pressure for good grades.

Most parents, meanwhile, say their kids are getting a better education than they did. Only 32 percent of parents say their child's school should teach more math and science.
I confess that I occasionally use a bad word when teaching college students. I had teachers who occasionally used a bad word in high school. It makes kids pay attention. Curse more, I say. Who cares, just move the US out of last place in science and math.

Also, wave your hands around. Students whose math teachers talked with their hands learned more than those whose teachers didn't wave their hands.

And pay teachers enough that people with serious training in science and math will be tempted to teach not just by altruism, a love of chalk dust and the thrill of metal detectors, but by petty things like feeding their own children.

Meanwhile, scientists, parents, teachers and clergy rallied together at the annual meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in support of science education, and lent their support to evolution in particular.

The newly formed Alliance for Science (it rhymes!) will join local and national groups, and will also offer graduate fellowships and other funding to encourage people to pursue studies and careers in science, as well as training for math and science teachers.

Real education reform. Refreshing.