Beginning the 21st Century:
Recognizing the Problem and the Need for Common Ground

Diversity and Discovery Institute 2000
from a program of Bryn Mawr College summer institutes for K-12 educators

My personal view of science for many years was, well, summed up with one word, "Yuck!"; in primary school it was undistinguishable from the morass of general information we learned from uninspiring textbooks and well-meaning, but insipid teachers. Middle school was worse: sterile classrooms in which science was lectured at us, and labs were limited to teacher demonstrations with very little student-centered learning. ... Along with college pretty much came the exit of science from my life. .... Karen Cohen (High school english teacher)

In the past I would have stated that science is discovery performed by highly trained and specialized people. This was parttially due to my phobia of science as a subject. It was something you had to take in class and you had to make sense of it. The discovery piece was missing. Science came from a textbook with very little experimentation or discovery because all of the answers were written on paper, you just needed to read and understand them. ... I have discovered there still exists a cultural gap in our educational system as it relates to science. There are teacher preparation programs that continue to steer clear of the sujbect unless you have declared science to be your area of certification. So we know where that leaves the K-8 educator. This in turn becomes apparent in some classroms where we continue to breed a group of young people who are phobic about science because the person doing the standing and delivering is not comfortable with the subject matter. ... Janet Middleton (Middle school teacher)

Science has always been regarded as a very different approach to life. In fact I used to think that it was a way of life for some wierd people. Actually people see scientists as nerds in the society ... Ayatola Oronti (High school science teacher)

The culture gap in education between science and non-science is vast. One only has to talk to a non-scientist to see this. For example, students and non-science teachers frequently feel that most science classes are challenging if not intimidating/anathema. .... The very terminology we use when discussing the different education classes creates a gulf between science and non-science ... The extensive terminology or the "language of science" is enough to intimidate the bravest of souls. ... Francis Peagler (Middle school teacher)

the scientist places a front where his credibility must stay intact.The reason why I enjoy reading into cryptozoology is the front comes down and the process is more evident.I feel it should become a part of the curriculum in science because it challenges the imagination and teaches to probe ... Maxine Tumaine (Middle school teacher)

most students from the inner city do not have the opportunity to experience the experiments the textbooks suggest. For example, when discussing a unit on plants, students were asked to list as many flowers as they could in their neighborhood and collect them. Unfortunately, students commented that there weren't any flowers. In fact, most students had not even heard of anything, except for a rose ... Nayjuana Woodberry (Middle school teacher)

another egregious error: that is, maintaining the status quo in keeping the disciplines distinctly separate and apart from one another in order to achieve what they believe to be academic integrity ... The nature of the outside world, global, ever-changing, technological,needs schools that provide a microcosm that reflects the dynamics and overlapping arenas of the real world .... Karen Cohen (High school english teacher)

Oh, if we became scientists with sentiment and excitement [in] fantasy as well as [in] "truth" what a world, what a universe! ... Maxine Tumaine (Middle school teacher)