Science in Christian Perspective
Irving W. Knobloch, Ph.D.
High School Science Curriculum
In June, 1960, a two-year study of science in the Rochester, New York, high schools was completed. A portion of this report was published in Ward's Natural Science Bulletin, Vol. 34 (1), 1960. The ideas presented there seemed so common-sense that we are reprinting a portion of the report below, leaving out the specific recommendations as they apply to the Rochester schools. High-school biology teachers in our membership may find some helpful ideas here.
Science makes a vital contribution to the student's liberal education. Training in scientific method can develop the powers of observation, analysis, and synthesis. Science engenders a respect for truth, stimulates the imagination, and promotes habits of creative and rational thinking. It enriches life by providing an appreciation of nature and natural phenomena.
The committee agreed to confine itself to the natural science curriculum-life, earth, and physical sciences. Thus the term "science," as used here, refers only to the natural sciences.Purposes of Science in the Curriculum
The committee concluded that an over-all science program from kindergarten through twelfth grade could make a significant contribution in the following areas:
1. Scientific Reasoning. An important value that scientific training can give the student is training and experience in reaching objective conclusions independen.tly on the basis of available evidence, carefully evaluated.
2. Cultural Appreciation. The scientific and technologica,l revolution has affected all aspects of life so profoundly that no understanding of our society is possible without knowledge of the science that has created it.
3. Civic Competency. With the rise of such issues as fluoridation, space exploration, nuclear tests, bacteriological warfare, fallout, etc., it is increasingly important for the elect-orate in a democracy to follow the arguments involving scientific information and to arrive at informed opinions on these subjects. This is especially important for officials who occupy positions of leadership in the community or nation.
4. Consumer Skills. Scientific information and understanding should help to make individuals wiser purchasers, users, and maintainers of an increasing proportion of the consumer products of our time.
5. Occupational Choice. Science as a profession is a richly rewarding field and opportunities are constantly increasing. An introduction to science as a possible profession is necessary at an early age so that adequate preparation can be embarked upon.
6. Manpower Needs. With increasing numbers of persons going into technical and science-related occupations, preliminary familiarization with the methods and achievements of science provides a necessary orientation.Guidelines
2. The science curriculum should emphasize the mastery of concepts. The goal should be thorough understanding of a limited number of important concepts rather than a superficial survey of many. This requires careful selection of concepts at each level and course.
3. The science curriculum should aim to stimulate and develop the abilities of students to think boldly, creatively, and critically. This can be best done by a problem-solving and experimental approach, i.e., by posing questions about natural phenomena and seeking answers by inductive or deductive investigation and reasoning. The science curriculum should provide opportunity for individual or small-group investigations leading to basic insights.
4. The science curriculum should be extended beyond the classroom and the formal school day. Community resources and the summer period should be used to extend science opportunities for interested students.
5. The science curriculum should have balance and continuity from kindergarten through grade twelve. The content should not emphasize one area of natural science excessively. The curriculum should be a sequential continuum with its goal the establishment of a sound foundation in all of the areas of science.
6. The science curriculum should include both "enrichment" and "acceleration" opportunities for the talented student. "Enrichment" is defined as enabling a student to pursue a subject more extensively or at greater depth than the over-all curriculum provides. "Acceleration" is defined as enabling a qualified student to take a subject at an earlier date in the school program. Since more rapid completion is not the aim, acceleration opportunities should also make available advanced courses for those who qualify.
7. Time and/or funds for continuous in-service training for science teachers should be provided.
Owing to the continuous development of science, the science teacher's training can never be "completed." Opportunity to keep up to date should be provided for every science teacher. He should not have to do this completely on his own time nor at his own expense.