Friday, September 02, 2005

Scientific Savvy? In U.S., Not Much

One of the objections I hear to homeschooling is that a parent cannot possibly provide as good a science education as that of a good high school. Sadly, most high school graduates end up not knowing much about math and science. They take Algebra because its required but never go on to calculus. They'd rather take the easy-A courses rather then more challenging classes like physics, chemistry and biology.

Dr. Miller's data reveal some yawning gaps in basic knowledge. American adults in general do not understand what molecules are (other than that they are really small). Fewer than a third can identify DNA as a key to heredity. Only about 10 percent know what radiation is. One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century.
"Our best university graduates are world-class by any definition," he said. "But the second half of our high school population - it's an embarrassment. We have left behind a lot of people."

Another objection is that school teachers are trained to teach science.

"This country cannot finance good school systems on property taxes," he said. "We don't get the best people for teaching because we pay so little. For people in the sciences particularly, if you have some skill, the job market is so good that teaching is not competitive."

My wife majored in Elementary Education and I helped her a lot on her science lessons most of what she had been given was watered-down so much it came out wrong. Most teachers don't have scientifically literate spouses, so the average student is not going to get all that great an education.

If you are homeschooling, you care about you children. You care so much that you are going to learn science so that you can pass it along to your children. You care more deeply about your child then anything and that will make you a better teacher then anyone.


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