More of the same… Nah, this will be different, right?

Last week the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released.  Curriculum Directors everywhere are scurrying to begin the process of Gap Analysis, Curriculum Cross-walk, and Standards Alignment.

But isn’t this just the same wine in a new bottle?

It depends on us.

Please understand that there is nothing inherently wrong with identifying gaps in current curriculum – as long as we chose to do more than just plug the holes with the next publisher’s NGSS aligned science experiments or activities.  Meaningful change and improvement come when we truly understand the scope and potential impact that these standards can have on our kids AND choose to lead and teach differently.

Interwoven throughout all of the NGSS standards are three important dimensions:

  1. Science and Engineering Practices
  2. Crosscutting Concepts
  3. Disciplinary Core Ideas

Ideally this structure can serve to bring simplicity and coherence to K-12 Science Education and erase the laundry list of concepts, vocabulary, and equations that all too often prevent many students from experiencing the joy and beauty of scientific exploration.

A former science colleague of mine had a great description of this issue.  Paraphrasing of course, he indicated that we do a great job in schools of teaching “School Science” and a horrible job of teaching “Real Science”.

In many instances we have failed to develop scientists or even scientific thinkers.  From a community and national perspective you have to agree to some extent.  ExxonMobil spent big bucks advertising America’s mediocre scienc and math status during the Masters tournament this weekend.

I think it is time for us to choose our own adventure – one that ends with better commercials.

What do you think?

  • Could your school, your colleagues, and your community handle a radical change in science education?
  • Are fellow educators equipped to teach real science?
  • Are educational leaders courageous enough to empower our science educators?

One final thought…

I have been in education long enough now to start to see the cyclical nature of new initiatives.  What will my perspective be a decade from now looking back on the NGSS; one of excitement and innovation or one of disgruntled frustration?  At the very least I hope we’ll all be able to watch the Master’s with commercials that encourage me about the work of education.

We have the opportunity to make a difference for our kids and our future.  Will we?  Or will we simply enjoy the same old wine in a more futuristic bottle?

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One thought on “More of the same… Nah, this will be different, right?

  1. Great Blog. Totally agree with the title. Gap analysis and curriculum alignment are going to benefit many students, without a doubt. In fact, common core might me something that might stick around longer than most of the previous but we need to take off the tunnel vision blinders forcing us to spend all of our time and resources on a singular idea. Yes, curriculum change is needed, desperately. But are we really believing that this change is going to be the long term answer for education? Probably a small part of the answer. Any adult you talk to, even wildly successful ones, will currently have massive gaps in their “academic achievement”. It’s natural, it’s going to happen. We need to stop viewing students as categorized gaps in academics, but as people whom it is our job to teach academically, socially, and emotionally. That’s when we’ll begin to see real change.

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