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How Should Science Be Taught?
In The Future of the Future
Pedro Duarte Moreira
Harvard GenEd 2021
Harvard GenEd 2021
Apr 29, 2021
I think there are several hurdles to implement this sort of more "rigorous" scientific teaching, or at least implementing a scientific teaching method with a larger space for questioning current scientific theories. I am not saying it's impossible, my middle and highschool had a similar model and some countries have this type of model as their standard, I am just saying it takes a lot of effort. First, the teachers need to really know their science. Several things in science which make no sense at first come from some mathematical abstraction that is there to make sure that the scientific model in question retains its internal mathematical consistency. Not only do the teachers need to know those abstractions, but they also need to be able to explain them to the students in a way that will make sense to them. Also, it requires a level of maturity from the students that might not always be there, which includes intellectual, emotional and social maturity. In several countries, many (or even the majority) of middle school students don't even know the alphabet properly and can't really understand short sentences (they are functionally illiterate). Aside from that, when opening the floor to the students, it is always a possibility that they will mess around instead of actually contributing to class, which is the teacher's duty to prevent, but would also not be a problem if the kids were more mature. Aside from that, there is always the problem of "dumb questions," for which students are made of, and discouraged from asking more questions. Of course, those problems also present the opportunity for students to mature in those aspects, and that is one of the reason this method of teaching is so effective; however, it does mean that it is harder to implement. There is also a curricular problem in some countries. In Brazil, for example, college entrance exams (our version of the SAT, the "ENEM") has, as required subjects, literature, Portuguese grammar, text interpretation, sociology, history, physical geography, geopolitics, philosophy, art history, biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, and either Spanish or English. Because of that, we don't really have the opportunity to really go deep into how science really works, most of the time, because we are busy just keeping up with the requirements. There is also the historical power dynamics between teacher and students, where it is all TEACHER --> STUDENT without any opportunity for the student to question the teacher back. All in all, it would be quite impressive to implement that teaching method globally. People are definitely trying, but it takes incredible amounts of effort and even time.
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Pedro Duarte Moreira

Pedro Duarte Moreira

Harvard GenEd 2021
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