U.S. Falling Behind in Global ‘Brain Race’ – Science -

U.S. Falling Behind in Global ‘Brain Race’ – Science - (Via Furl – The mguerena Archive.) Mike Guerena focuses on an interesting quote from this article. Science is one of the most inherently exciting subjects in school, and math one of the most useful. We need to ask ourselves what we’ve been doing that has made these subjects so boring and unpalatable… and of course, what we can do now that we couldn’t do before to make them more exciting and authentic. Project based learning is just a start; it offers context, opportunities for inquiry-driven discovery learning, and of course opportunities for collaboration and social-negotiation of learning. (You may have noticed these things are something of a theme here.) Technologies such as the read/write web, or games and simulations can facilitate this kind of learning.

What I really wanted to do was leave a comment on Mike’s FURL item, but FURL doesn’t support comments. Now, though, that I’ve made the referral here in wordpress, you can leave comments on this post, and even subscribe to an RSS feed to follow any further comments. Not that this will happen, but I’m happy with this change.

3 Responses to “U.S. Falling Behind in Global ‘Brain Race’ – Science -”

  1. Wesley Fryer Says:

    The vast majority of teachers in our school system, if not all of them, are steeped in a transmission-based model of education. Project-based learning is a theoretical idea or just something they did once or twice in their educational careers, but not repeatedly– and our high stakes testing environment further reinforces this focus. Some charter schools like High Tech High in Albuquerque have an entire curriculum based around project-based learning, but my perception is that these schools are rare. It is much easier to just teach from the textbook in a sequential, top-down manner like a transmission-based paradigm of education prescripts. So we are where we are with respect to math and science education.

    I am amazed how many of our parents in the Lubbock, Texas, area are so negative about the science fair in elementary school. This is one of the best opportunities for kids to learn real science by doing it, but many if not most parents seem to regard it as a worthless chore they are just relieved to have finished. This is so sad. Their negative views of science and the scientific process are certainly contagious to their children.

    We not only need school curricula which is more centered around in-depth, problem based learning, but also parents who understand and are supportive of school projects that support inquiry and real research. I am not sure what we can do to help turn that around, other than try to produce a new generation of teachers who are excited about promoting project-based learning and scientific inquiry.

  2. a student Says:

    I am a high-school student, and I believe we need more project-based learning in our schools. Of all the classes I have taken, I have learned best in those that are interactive. Anybody can read from a textbook, memorize the information, take a test, and forget what they read in a week. American schools are focusing on just that. Students take tests on words, words they found in a book for the sole purpose of testing. They don’t need to learn what the words mean, because they only need that information until the test. Also, I think we need to rethink our testing strategies. Vocab tests are insane. We get fifteen words on Monday and test on Friday. We forget the words over the weekend and get fifteen new words on the next Monday. History is a little harder. Students are required to remember dates and names. I personally only remember what happens, not who made it happen or where. I consider myself a good learner, but I have a good short-term memory, so I have been successful so far. However, if I was asked what happened in World War I, I would be able to tell you it was called the Great War, involved most of Europe, and started in 1914 (I think…). This coming from an A student. In addition, many of my peers are happy with C’s and don’t try to accel in school, so I think the United States of America needs to find a motivational tool to help American students reach their potential and continue to better our economy. -I apologize for the lack of structure in this comment. (My thoughts aren’t always organized.)

  3. Educational Technology and Life » Blog Archive » Project-Based Learning: A Student Comment Says:

    [...] Out of the blue tonight I received a new comment on a two year old post… and it’s one of my favorite comments in over three years of blogging. In response to a brief post about the U.S. Falling Behind in the Global ‘Brain Race’, an anonymous high-school student left this comment: I am a high-school student, and I believe we need more project-based learning in our schools. Of all the classes I have taken, I have learned best in those that are interactive. Anybody can read from a textbook, memorize the information, take a test, and forget what they read in a week. American schools are focusing on just that. Students take tests on words, words they found in a book for the sole purpose of testing. They don’t need to learn what the words mean, because they only need that information until the test. Also, I think we need to rethink our testing strategies. Vocab tests are insane. We get fifteen words on Monday and test on Friday. We forget the words over the weekend and get fifteen new words on the next Monday. History is a little harder. Students are required to remember dates and names. I personally only remember what happens, not who made it happen or where. I consider myself a good learner, but I have a good short-term memory, so I have been successful so far. However, if I was asked what happened in World War I, I would be able to tell you it was called the Great War, involved most of Europe, and started in 1914 (I think…). This coming from an A student. In addition, many of my peers are happy with C’s and don’t try to accel in school, so I think the United States of America needs to find a motivational tool to help American students reach their potential and continue to better our economy. -I apologize for the lack of structure in this comment. (My thoughts aren’t always organized.) [...]