Envisioning A Curriculum Of Inquiry In The Elementary School
Most authors agree that science is both a collection of knowledge products (i.e., laws and theories), and a set of practices (i.e., observation, experimentation, argument). It would follow that classroom science inquiry should emphasize both science as knowledge products and science as practices. However, our elementary science classrooms have been characterized typically by one of two orientations to science teaching, each of which has emphasized one facet of science to the exclusion of the other. In the didactic orientation (Anderson and Smith, 1987), science instruction emphasizes the products of science, and textbooks dominate. In the 1981 Project Synthesis report, Pratt summarized how elementary teachers depended on textbooks as the authority for science teaching. Recent TIMSS findings (Schmidt, McKnight, and Raizen, 1997) demonstrate that the trend of relying on textbooks and low level facts in elementary science continues. Science is not alone when it comes to an overemphasis on knowledge reproduction in the elementary school. Published curricula such as Saxon mathematics (1992) and the Shurley method of teaching language arts (1992) are being purchased by school districts eager to raise test scores and garner state dollars, without regard for long term learning.
KeywordsElementary Teacher Elementary Science National Science Education Standard Classroom Inquiry Elementary Science Teacher
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