California children are clueless about science.
What is it? What do they like best about it? They don’t know. ‘Science in lower grades near extinction’, a recent article on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, tells the sad story of elementary school teachers no longer having the time to teach science.
According to researchers from the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, and WestEd, a California education think tank, 80% of San Francisco Bay Area teachers spend less than an hour a week on science. 16% of the teachers teach no science at all. The California study confirms earlier findings at national level, that science in elementary schools is treated as a second tier subject.
Rena Dorph, director of the Center for Research, Evaluation and Assessment at the Lawrence Hall of Science is particularly concerned about the long-term effects of this deficit in early science knowledge. First, ‘understanding science helps children learn to think and solve problems while questioning he world around them’. Second, ‘there is also evidence that people who go into scientific fields generally learned to love science as children’.
Given the increasingly important role of science, both in solving and understanding climate change related issues, one can only imagine the magnitude of the problems lying ahead.
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