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Science Education in Canada

As BC teachers’ strike is continuing, I am glad that not everywhere in Canada teaching in general and science education in particular is “under attack”. We need strong voices across Canada that help the general population realize why it is so important to have a strong public education system. I was so excited to see that CBC public radio decided to draw public’s attention to the issue of science education by having a special science edition on CBC radio. I was happy to see Chris Hadfield hosting a very popular CBC radio show “The Current” dealing with the issues of science and society. In the show, Chris Hadfield invited very interesting people, including a colleague science educator and a curriculum theorist from British Columbia – Prof. David Blades from the University of Victoria. While listening to the show I noticed Chris Hadfield’s definition of science “To me science is a formalized curiosity”. This definition resonated with the guests on the program and with me. I loved this definition and I was thinking how it might be reflected in the science education experiences that many of our students experience in their classrooms… The show also discussed the issue of national standards (or the lack of thereof) and the need for a comprehensive review of Canadian education system in general and science education in particular. Canada’s performance on international standards and the issue of teacher preparation were addressed as well. David Blades and all program participants alluded to the fact that many of our elementary teachers do not like science, yet they have to teach it. They have little passion for science since many of them have never had an opportunity to experience science for what it is and not just memorize facts or do experiments with already known predetermined outcomes. Many Canadian students are denied high quality science education and our society will pay the price. This brings me to the issue of passion in teaching. I think it is one of the most important qualities that teachers must have – passion for the subject, for the students and for inquiry. Teachers who are not excited about the subject should not be teaching it…

VanDerGraafMMB

I started teaching my physics methods course and graduate science education course yesterday. My goal was to share my passion for physics and for bringing the excitement of science to the students with the future teachers and I decided to start the methods course with sharing with future teachers my favourite electrostatic demonstrations. You can see one of them in the photo above.

I recommend you to listen to this CBC program and to think how Chris Hadfield’s and his guests’ ideas resonate or counter-resonate with a popular piece by a mathematician and a mathematics educator Paul Lockhart’s lament: https://www.maa.org/external_archive/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf .

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