Veteran educator John D. Mays lays out a revolutionary new paradigm for science education sorely needed today. Written in an accessible style and firmly grounded upon the biblical teaching of humans as God’s image bearers, he explains the principles and strategies schools need to establish a premier science program.
It’s not about gimmicks or finding new ways to coax students to learn. It is about bringing the truth of humans as image bearers of God into the classroom. It is also about drawing students upward into the adult world of scientific study rather than pandering to juvenile tastes and cultural assumptions about teens and media. This book advocates a rethinking of strategies, methods and priorities that will result in students actually learning and retaining course material.
Establishing core principles and elucidating the nature of truth and of scientific knowledge is the groundwork covered in the first part of the book. These concepts are critical because our faith is grounded in what we believe to be the truth about God, Man, and the rest of Creation. The principles articulated in these opening chapters are extended to the classroom through detailed and specific examples relating to the history of scientific discovery and to particular instances of classroom instruction.
Next, the book sets out to articulate a comprehensive vision for practical science education. The principles set forth are rooted in three primary orthodoxies.
First, the author advocates a mastery-oriented pedagogy designed to break what he calls the ‘Cram-Pass-Forget’ cycle that is so ingrained in education: students cram for a test, pass the test, and then forget most of what they learned within a short time. This pattern is ubiquitous in grade school and college, and is evidence of the fundamental brokenness of education. A mastery paradigm strives to break this cycle and effect real learning in the student.
Second, the author’s pedagogical philosophy affirms the integratedness of knowledge, a view consistent with Western perspectives on liberal or classical education that have been embraced for 2,500 years. Students need to explore and express scientific learning in the context of other related disciplines such as technical writing, mathematics, epistemology and history.
The third emphasis is the unique enrichment and blessing that particularly Christian engagement in the sciences can bring. We are informed by the priorities of the Kingdom of God as we investigate God’s amazing creation. Frequently, such engagement, while well-intentioned, is done without context, ham-handedly, or dogmatically. The author’s deep commitment to the discipleship of students and their worship of their Creator is evidenced in the love and excellence he advocates for this eminently Christian enterprise.
These three primary philosophical strands are connected practically to the working classroom through scores of specific strategies, practices, tips, anecdotes and exhortations.
1. Core Principles for Instruction in Science
2. Truth and Facts
4. The Cycle of Scientific Enterprise
5. Verbal Matters
6. Quantitative Matters
7. Science as a Cumulative Discipline
8. Grammar School and the Science Curriculum
9. Laboratory Work and Lab Reports
10. Making History Work in Your High School Science Class
11. Dealing with Evolution