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Education Malpractice Part 2: Time to Call out the Fake Science Teachers in Oklahoma

Earlier this year, I wrote about how we need to start calling out “science teachers” that don’t understand or even believe that what they are teaching is correct. The title of the article was "EDUCATIONAL MALPRACTICE: TIME TO CALL OUT THE FAKE SCIENCE TEACHERS"

Essentially, I said that if you do not think evolution is a real thing, and if you teach Biology, then you are committing educational malpractice.

As follow up to that article, a survey that came out this week of science teachers in Oklahoma that showed a significant number of them simply did not understand evolution.

The survey showed:

  • 25 percent strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, “Scientific evidence indicates that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time in the past.”
  • 36.8 percent strongly or somewhat disagree with the statement, “Complex structures such as the eye could have been formed by evolution.”
  • 40.8 percent strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, “‘Survival of the fittest’ means basically that ‘only the strong survive’.”
  • 17.1 percent strongly or somewhat disagree with the statement, “The earth is old enough for evolution to have occurred.” (And, 3.9 percent were “undecided.”)
  • 32.9 percent strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, “Evolution is a total random process.”

We cannot say we are professionals if we don’t even understand what we are teaching. Evolution is one of the fundamentals of science. A lack of understanding of a fundamental of science is like having a mechanic that does not understand how an engine works, or a football coach that does not know what an offense is.

As the authors of the study say:

"As teachers are critical determiners of the quality of classroom instruction, it is vital that they be capable of making professionally responsible instructional and curricular decisions. For biology teachers to make such decisions about evolution, they must possess a thorough knowledge of evolutionary theory and its powerful role in the discipline of biology.

Second, when teachers hold science misconceptions, they may critically impede student conceptual development of scientific explanations. Teachers with misconception-laced subject knowledge will convey inaccurate or incomplete ideas to their students, resulting in a less than accurate biological evolution education, likely fraught with errors…. Therefore, teachers may be a primary factor in the acquisition, propagation and perpetuation of students’ biological evolution-related misconceptions.”

We have got to call these teachers out and we have got to either educate them or get them out of the classroom. Come on Oklahoma. Lead the way!

Here is the entire survey and its results:

Action Science: Interview with Author Bill Robertson

Bill Robertson is a good friend of mine and is affectionally known to thousands of students across the US and around the world as “Dr. Skateboard.” He recently released a new book “Action Science:Relevant Teaching and Active Learning" on Corwin Press. He graciously has agreed to answer a few questions about his book.

But before we get started, let’s look at a video about what Action Science and Dr. Skateboard are all about:

Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you ever get the idea to mix science instruction with BMX and skateboarding?

I’ve been a skateboarder for over 35 years, and have done demonstrations nationally and internationally. I have done hundreds of demonstrations in festivals, events and in academic settings. In my onsite school demonstrations, I have performed for thousands of students in elementary, middle, and high school levels throughout the United States, in Canada, Mexico and into South America.

Additionally, I have been an educator for over twenty years. My academic areas of expertise are science education, curriculum development and technology integration. I also teach and do research in the areas of problem-based learning and action science.

As an educator and a skateboarder, I knew I would have unique opportunities to instruct and to work with students and teachers, and the development of action science is a practical example. Through skateboarding and education, I have learned creativity, practice, patience, discipline, and goal setting. Many of my audiences of students and parents typically don’t see the connection between skateboarding and science. They often wonder, if you have a Ph.D., why do you ride a skateboard? The answer is because it’s fun and it’s part of who I am.

Give us the 10,000 ft view of Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning. 

How can you get young people interested in science and mathematics? What efforts are there to integrate the experiences of young people into the things they need to do and learn in school? How can action sports, like skateboarding and BMX, be used to teach physics, algebra, data collection, and help students to grow in their engagement and motivation in science and mathematics?

An answer to these questions and more are addressed in Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning, a new publication from Corwin for Middle School teachers and the students in their classes. This book combines physical science concepts in areas such as forces, motion, Newton’s Laws of Motion and simple machines set in the context of activities that young people enjoy doing, such as riding bikes and skateboards.

Many authors of texts are looking to solve a problem. What problem are you trying to solve by writing this work?

Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning was written as a resource for teachers to integrate a relevant and practical setting for learning centered on youth culture that would allow for the study of fundamental physics principles to be brought forward in skateboarding and bicycle motocross (BMX). This book looks to solve the dilemma that many teachers face in teaching the concepts of physical science in a context for the modern learner. Placing the content in a relatable format with action sports as a focus, combined with the use constructivism, this book presents a strategy for teaching that is student-centered and built on active learning strategies.

Do you think that by using skating and BMX as your starting point, you might alienate girls that traditionally are not attracted to these sports? 

Why write a book about physics set in youth culture? Primarily, it is a resource for middle school science teachers that integrates physical science content in the context of action sports, which should help to increase engagement and motivation in the classroom. The methodology integrated within the book is a student-centered, teacher-facilitated approach that allows for active learning within the classroom. I think this is an inclusive work that is designed to appeal to boys and girls, and the goal is to integrated engaging content to motivate learners. I also think that it can be easily expanded in the future to showcase other examples of Action Science that might be more applicable to girls, such as surfing, snowboarding and inline skating.

You have integrated a lot of QR codes and web links into the work. Do you think that text books need to become more interactive to capture the reader’s attention?

The content, images and associated video with Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning are meant to help the teacher to provide relevance for important science applications through the use of hands-on activities and engaging video and graphical content. I do believe the teacher needs to integrate technology in teaching and learning, and this book is designed as a crossover text that integrate video and high quality images that enhance the engagement aspect as well as unlock the interactive nature for content immersion by students. The book describes a process that a teacher can effectively utilize that integrates both relevant science content and purposeful teaching methods. It is not a workbook or a series of activities in and of itself, it is a professional development resource that utilizes an approach that can be integrated into the classroom in order to help the modern student learn more effectively.

Action Science is targeted to middle school students. Why that grade level?

The purpose of this book is to provide middle school teachers and students with a resource that will help them to be better equipped to instruct students and to provide students with rich and compelling content that is motivating and engaging. Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning is about today’s modern student in today’s modern classroom, and is designed to help teachers with relevant and practical approaches in science instruction. As with all middle school students, but even more so with marginalized students, science education needs to be transformed, and Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning is a great example of student-focused transformative resource designed to reach the modern learner. This is the way you wish you were taught and certainly the way in which you would want your children to learn.

How do you mix a constructivist approach to learning with skateboarding? Why do you believe in this methodology for instruction?

For education to be constructivist, the traditional teacher-student relationship, which historically has been defined by a method of the teacher delivering content while students listen passively, is discarded. Instead, teachers must serve as facilitators, mentors, role models, co-inquirers and friends, while helping students to seek understanding to the content of the classroom curriculum. Teachers need to view themselves as respectful guides and compassionate helpers who provide students the opportunities to become actively involved in their own learning and in classroom operations.

The constructivist approach used in Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning has been used over many years in schools across the United States and internationally, and the method is focused on the student and puts the teacher in the role of a facilitator in the classroom. This book combines detailed methods for instruction in the classroom, relevant activities for students to do, and captivating photos and video of top professional and amateur extreme sports athletes doing difficult and captivating tricks that underlie the science being presented.

Some say we need to go back to the “old ways” of teaching and learning: Kids sitting in desks listening to teachers teach. What do you say to that?

I say “no” to that idea and think that education needs to be relevant, practical and learning needs to be active and student-centered. This book describes the need to make the science curriculum relevant, so that a transformative educational approach can be used to motivate middle school students to learn science. If students who are reluctant to become engaged in schoolwork, can come to enjoy learning concepts in physics, such as, forces and motion, it may up to them open other educational experiences in their everyday lives.

Do you subscribe to the research that says physically active kids are more academically successful? If so, how do we get kids up away from TVs and video games and into the environment?

The importance of an active environment for learning that integrates oral, visual and kinesthetic strategies by the teacher allows for learning to center on the students. In this manner, teachers become change agents, linking the relevant life experiences of the students to the content of the curriculum, and in no area is this more needed than in Middle School science. The teacher must work to establish links within their learning communities, and to try and engage their students in active learning projects that require them to interact with individuals inside and outside the school. For the constructivist education teacher in science, learning needs to be extended into the fabric of student’s lives, not solely as a subject to be explored uniquely in a classroom.

I always like to end these interviews with this question: Who is listening? Who do you HOPE is listening?

I know that people wanting to reach young people, to make science content relevant and learning a fun process are listening. I am also sure that the action sports industry, specifically in the areas of skateboarding and BMX, are listening and actively looking for ways to combine education and action sports. Who do I hope is listening? I hope that teachers needing a path to relevance and a way to re-energize the classroom are listening. I also hope that Teacher Preparation programs and university professors are listening, and that Action Science can proliferate as an educational approach and methodology for teaching and learning.

You Can find “Action Science:Relevant Teaching and Active Learning” at these locations  :

Amazon Corwin eBooks

For more Dr. Skateboard Action, go here:

10 Science Sites in 10 Minutes

One of the new series we are doing called 10 in 10. 10 ed tech topics in ten minutes. This show is on science education websites.

Last night, Cosmos on FOX had an audience of about 4.91 million people, while a show about dead people coming back to life on ABC had 10.8 million.

Keep that in mind America when you complain about low science test scores and how dumb we are as a country.

My fantasy is that for just one hour on Sundays, every TV in every sports bar in America is tuned to Cosmos.

My fantasy is that for just one hour on Sundays, every TV in every sports bar in America is tuned to Cosmos.

(Source: recitethis.com)

COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey

More than three decades after the debut of “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” Carl Sagan’s stunning and iconic exploration of the universe as revealed by science, Seth MacFarlane has teamed with Sagan’s original creative collaborators – writer/executive producer Ann Druyan and co-writer, astronomer Steven Soter – to conceive the 13-part series that will serve as a successor to the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning original series.

COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY is hosted by renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. As with the legendary original series, the new COSMOS is the saga of how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time. The series brings to life never-before-told stories of the heroic quest for knowledge, transporting viewers to new worlds and across the universe for a vision of the cosmos on the grandest – and the smallest – scale. The series invents new modes of scientific storytelling to reveal the grandeur of the universe and re-invent celebrated elements of the original series, including the Cosmic Calendar and the Ship of the Imagination. The most profound scientific concepts are presented with stunning clarity, uniting skepticism and wonder, and weaving rigorous science with the emotional and spiritual into a transcendent experience.

The COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY app for iPhone and iPad is a companion to the groundbreaking series, providing breathtaking imagery, unique videos and additional exclusive content to enable viewers to connect to the show all week long. In addition, the app features a stunning interactive Cosmic Calendar, which visualizes the 13.8 billion year history of the universe condensed down into a single calendar year.

COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY airs on Sundays at 9/8c on FOX and Mondays at 10/9c on National Geographic Channel.

NOTE: This app does not stream full episodes. Full episode streaming of COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY is available free in FOX NOW.

Mar 9

WANTED: Young Scientists to Change the World

Science and engineering have the power to change the world around us and the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is inviting 5-8th grade students to make a difference through innovative ideas. From helmets that detect concussions to using solar energy for water purification, past contenders have dreamed up answers and ideas that change the way we live.


Science and engineering have the power to change the world around us and the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is inviting 5-8th grade students to make a difference through innovative ideas. From helmets that detect concussions to using solar energy for water purification, past contenders have dreamed up answers and ideas that change the way we live.

So what sets the Young Scientist Challenge apart from other science competitions? It has the power to change lives. Ten national finalists earn exclusive summer mentorships with a 3M scientist, where they can work together on special assignments and explore a career in science. They also get the chance to turn their ideas into real inventions. One lucky student will even win $25,000 and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist”.

Ready to enter? Students can start by checking out the video topics for this year’s Young Scientist Challenge. Then, look around at all aspects of everyday life, take notes and put your mind to the test on fixing a related real-world problem. Anyone in grades 5-8 can send an idea straight to the Young Scientist Challenge. We’re accepting video entries through April 22, 2014. Don’t miss the deadline or the chance to become America’s Top Young Scientist!

Steps to enter:
1. Take a look at this year’s challenge topics and start innovating!
2. Read tips and tricks for making a great video competition entry. You can use a digital camera, smart phone or other recording device.
3. Record your 1-2 minute video entry.
4. Fill out the Young Scientist Challenge entry form and submit!
5. Turn in your entry soon! The first 50 video entries will receive a Young Scientist Challenge prize pack.

Don’t forget to check out all of the educational resources on www.YoungScientistChallenge.com for use at home and in the classroom. You’ll find judges’ bios, student experiences, science activities, science games and other resources that’ll spark the mind and help time fly.

Link to: Young Scientist Challenge

So what sets the Young Scientist Challenge apart from other science competitions? It has the power to change lives. Ten national finalists earn exclusive summer mentorships with a 3M scientist, where they can work together on special assignments and explore a career in science. They also get the chance to turn their ideas into real inventions. One lucky student will even win $25,000 and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist”.

Ready to enter? Students can start by checking out the video topics for this year’s Young Scientist Challenge. Then, look around at all aspects of everyday life, take notes and put your mind to the test on fixing a related real-world problem. Anyone in grades 5-8 can send an idea straight to the Young Scientist Challenge. We’re accepting video entries through April 22, 2014. Don’t miss the deadline or the chance to become America’s Top Young Scientist!

Steps to enter:
1. Take a look at this year’s challenge topics and start innovating!
2. Read tips and tricks for making a great video competition entry. You can use a digital camera, smart phone or other recording device.
3. Record your 1-2 minute video entry.
4. Fill out the Young Scientist Challenge entry form and submit!
5. Turn in your entry soon! The first 50 video entries will receive a Young Scientist Challenge prize pack.

Don’t forget to check out all of the educational resources on www.YoungScientistChallenge.com for use at home and in the classroom. You’ll find judges’ bios, student experiences, science activities, science games and other resources that’ll spark the mind and help time fly.

Link to: Young Scientist Challenge

explore-blog:

In the premiere of Cosmos, his contemporary continuation of the Carl Sagan classic, the inimitable Neil deGrasse Tyson adds to history’s finest definitions of science.
Cosmos airs Sundays at 9/8c.

explore-blog:

In the premiere of Cosmos, his contemporary continuation of the Carl Sagan classic, the inimitable Neil deGrasse Tyson adds to history’s finest definitions of science.

Cosmos airs Sundays at 9/8c.

Educational Malpractice: Time to Call out the Fake Science Teachers

Recently, I have, stupidly, gotten into several online discussions with people about topics that we should not even be having discussions about. These are all hot button topics like global climate change, but the one that stands out in my mind is a recent exchange where I posted this picture:

I know that this would be provocative, and that is probably why I posted it. Statements like these make people think about their positions. On top of that, if they choose to respond, I like to tweak them to explain themselves. MOST people cannot explain why they feel some way about something. MOST people end up calling me names or saying that I am unreasonable, or a hater. Oh well.

I added this phrase to the picture: “I have had science teachers that have said this in class. I often wondered how exactly they could teach science.” I said this because of several ideas:

The concept of evolution, that things change over time and that in biology, living things have common ancestors, is one of the central grand ideas of science. Things change over time. Biological entities change over time and have ribbons of commonality going back to the rise of life is not debatable. Given enough time, living things change radically, slowly yes, but radically over the span of history . If you understand that concept about change over time, then you understand everything from how astronomy to biology works. If you teach science and do not understand change over time, then you simply are misunderstanding science.

Period.

You can SAY you are a good science teacher, but you are not.

Period.

Change over time causes galaxies to form, mountain to rise and fall, suns to form and explode, and living things to evolve. It is that simple. You can agree, you can disagree, but if you think to yourself that it does not happen then you are NOT a science teacher. Sorry.

Change over time and the interconnectedness of living things pretty much explains why EVERY LIVING THING ON THIS PLANET has DNA. You cannot scientifically explain it any other way based on our current understanding of science.

It is time to call science teachers out that don’t believe in what they are teaching.

Because if one does not understand a CENTRAL idea of science, then how can one say they understand science?
That is like a math teacher saying they are a great math teacher and not understanding multiplication, or an English teacher saying they they are great English teachers but not understanding verbs, or nouns. It simply is not possible.

Almost without exception, when pressed, these “science teachers” will say something like well, their belief is in the Christian Bible. Consider this which was posted as a response after a teacher explained to me that she was a “Good Science Teacher:

"…Well, that’s [what a theory is] not entirely true. There are even things in our science curriculum that state certain things are "theory"… but let me just say this. I have a firm testimony of the divinity of a Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ who created this Earth and all the inhabitants thereon, in Their own image. We did not evolve from apes.”

Faith trumps science.

Typically, these sometimes well meaning (we need to teach the truth as we see it, not as it really is) but totally misinformed “science teachers” have a fundamental misunderstanding of the term “Theory” as used in science. (Again, this is big red flag that if you do not understand what a scientific theory is as opposed to a “Theory” in the common use phraseology, then you are not a science teacher. )

I think she is a well meaning teacher. I don’t think she can be a good science teacher.

How can anyone say that they teach science well and NOT understand what a Scientific Theory is? There are lots of SCIENTIFIC THEORIES:
Germ Theory
Theory of Relativity
and on and on…

I try to point out that a scientific theory is not the same as a non-science theory, but these “Science Teachers” simply do not or refuse to understand:

When used in non-scientific context, the word “theory” implies that something is unproven or speculative. As used in science, however, a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena.

Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. In the scientific method, there is a clear distinction between facts, which can be observed and/or measured, and theories, which are scientists’ explanations and interpretations of the facts. Scientists can have various interpretations of the outcomes of experiments and observations, but the facts, which are the cornerstone of the scientific method, do not change. (source found with a simple Google search)

However, because most of the people understand THEORY in the non scientific arena, they simply cannot make the mental leap to the THEORY of science. If you want to understand the term Scientific Theory, you go to scientists or scientific organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science whose definition of scientific theory is:

"A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact."

This teacher says that because something is not “in the Bible, she can’t believe it. Can you really teach and understand a topic if you fundamentally disagree with it?

To me at least, that is a form of educational malpractice. If one did not like Muslims, would one leave the Middle East (except Isreal of course) out of geography?) If one didn’t like Satan, would one not teach Dante’s Inferno? If a teacher didn’t like Barack Obama would they simply ignore his presidency?

Can you leave your faith at the door when you teach? In science, one has to.

The bible is full of bad science. Just recently, it was shown that a passage in the Bible about domesticated camels could not have been accurate because camels were not domesticated until thousands of years after the event in the bible was said to have taken place. The Bible says the earth is flat (several passages refer to the “four corners of the earth), that insects have 4 legs, that bats are birds, that the value of pi is 3 and that the earth had a roof over it. (Let’s face facts here: A book written thousands of years ago by illiterate sheepherders should not be used as a science textbook, or as a basis for scientific inquiry. )


Because of the understanding of evolution we have been able to fight disease, have better agriculture, eliminated polio, have better biofuels, been able to improve crime fighting, even been able to find your descendants with just a swab of your DNA.

Evolutionary SCIENTIFIC THEORY has been used to change the ideas of how businesses work, how technology changes and even to address how politics and societies change. To deny students exposure to that idea, that leads to so many other ideas, is again, educational malpractice in my opinion.

Imagine if every single one of the teachers of the inventors of those life saving improvements like antibiotics, or the polio vaccine, or stem cell breakthroughs thought that evolution and change over time were not “true?” (I actually remember a teacher of mine in high school telling the class that he didn’t believe a thing he was teaching but that he had to teach it anyway. He was teaching biology. When he said that, he lost every shred of credibility he had with me. His lack of faith in his topic was one reason I became a teacher. I remember rethinking to myself at the time that I could do a better job that that…)

Then we would simply not have these because some teacher thought they understood science better than scientists. Lives have been saved because of evolutionary SCIENTIFIC THEORY.

We are also seeing that attitude of “I don’t believe it therefore it does not exist” more and more today with ideas such as climate change. People with a religious or political agenda are dismissing the idea of climate change because it is cold where they live, or because they found a single scientist somewhere that disagreed with the vast majority of other scientists or because they saw a show on TV.

Sadly, these same people will complain when international test scores show our students falling behind in scientific thinking and reasoning skills. They will complain when we are told that our students cannot reason effectively, and then stand in awe as countries such as Korea and China move ahead both industrially and in creativity.

We need to start calling out these “science teachers” because frankly, they are not science teachers. They are preachers. And if they don’t teach something because they “don’t believe in it” then they are hurting our children and the future of the nation.

These EXACT SAME people that know little science or base their science knowledge in a 3000 year old Bedouin text rewritten hundreds or thousands of times (dare I say that the text has EVOLVED over time?) should not be teaching our children science. They should be in Sunday school, teaching there, because that is where their heart is, that is where their passion is , and that is where their basis for living is.

Leave science teaching to people that know and understand science.
Leave Sunday school for Sundays.

I have had science teachers that have said this in class. I often wondered how exactly they could teach science.

I have had science teachers that have said this in class. I often wondered how exactly they could teach science.

Words by Bill Nye from his recent Evolution Debate in which he hit a home run. The Joy of Discovery.

Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding

Science may have looked victorious in the recent debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and young-Earth creationist Ken Ham, but a new study suggests Americans have a pretty loose interpretation of what actually constitutes “science.”
According to a new survey by the National Science Foundation, nearly half of all Americans say astrology, the study of celestial bodies’ purported influence on human behavior and worldly events, is either “very scientific” or “sort of scientific.”

By contrast, 92 percent of the Chinese public think horoscopes are a bunch of baloney.

Click on title to go to Report

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Blog/2014/02/11/Majority-of-young-adults-think-astrology-is-a-science/5201392135954/#ixzz2t3P6e2Tv