Education is a multifaceted process, and the quagmire in which it currently is has been formed by a web of wrong ideas and ideologies coming from diverse disciplines like philosophy, psychology, sociology, economics, religion, even Eastern mysticism. To correct the wrong path taken, every now and then a committee comes up with a new “strategic” plan or a new method of teaching, accompanied by huge publicity and fanfare, only to watch it fail and a new committee to form. To illustrate the proliferation of these committees, I list some of the ones formed to address the scientific illiteracy of the American public, followed by a very brief description of their recommendations for the goal of science education:
- National Education Association (NEA) Committee of Ten (1918, 1920): for the activities of life.
- National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE) (1932): usefulness to individuals … intelligent participation in a democratic society.
- NSSE (1947): solving problems of human society.
- NSSE (1960): helping decide how scientific knowledge will be used.
- National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) (1971): making everyday decisions in interacting with other people and the environment.
- National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983): should be the cure for the declining economic position of the U.S. in the world.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1989, 96): evaluating the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source [such as an article in a professional physics journal!] and the methods used to generate it.
- Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (2013): The latest attempt …
… and the academic standards keep falling in the U.S!
And as long as these committees set goals that either subordinate science to its utility in solving social and economic problems, or are so ridiculously ambitious that no teacher can attain them, the standards continue to fall.
The solution to the educational quandary is not easy, and the problem is not solved by executive summaries. It is a social problem that goes deep into the psyche of the American culture and history. The pages and posts of this site are just the starting points. Read them, and if you find a grain of truth in them, build on it and post your thoughts. If enough concerned and dedicated heads are put together, a solution is bound to show up.