Summary of Post
- Most subjects have a clear learning path
- Most students don’t have the foundation they need to succeed in science
- People teaching science often lack a deep understanding of science themselves
- Many “experts” don’t actually understand how science learning works or what kids need to know
- Vlog entry from Dr. Robin
Why We’re Lost in Science
IT’S SPECIFIC TO SCIENCE
Every other subject has a clear path.
- You learn your alphabet (or phonograms). You read and write words. Then sentences, paragraphs, and eventually essays.
- You count by ones, then twos and tens. You add and subtract, multiply and divide. Little by little you work your way up to algebra, geometry, and calculus.
But with science it goes something like this:
- Do five senses activities.
- Make a vinegar and baking soda volcano.
- Grow a bean seed in a plastic bag (bonus points if you do one in a dark cupboard and one in a window!)
- Repeat back some random facts you don’t really understand.
Then you get to high school and it usually goes one of three ways:
- Drop out of science when you get to chemistry because equations don’t make any sense at all! You never attempt anatomy or physics.
- Muddle through high school science, survive by memorizing rather than understanding. Continue on into college but never make it through chemistry (in particular organic chemistry).
- Keep plugging away at science without really understanding most of it. Believe that you’re smart and knowledgeable. Then when it comes time to actually apply the science you’ve learned, discover that you never learned anything at a deep enough level to apply it to new situations, combine it with other ideas, or discover anything new.
WHY THIS HAPPENS
1. Science is a vast subject. That’s why we divide it up into so many other subjects. Anatomy, Astonomy, Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Earth Science, Ecology, Geology, Physics.
- In the school setting, a classroom teacher (usually in K-5) or science teacher (usually in 6-8) is expected to somehow know enough to teach about all these different branches of science even though it takes scientists many years to truly understand their area of focus.
- In homeschool settings, parents are in the same situation.
2. There isn’t a clear path through all this information. We all know intuitively that writing a paragraph comes after writing a sentence. But where do we start in science? What leads to what?
3. There are a lot of “experts” trying to tell you what you should do who aren’t really experts at all. Are they experts in teaching but not science? Experts in one branch of science but not the others? Do they really understanding how learning works? Do they understand how the sciences all connect together?
WHAT WE NEED INSTEAD
Science education should build on itself over time so that students develop a deep understanding of how the world works. By the time they are having to balance equations or memorize the Krebs cycle, they need a foundational knowledge of all the concepts necessary to do this work meaningfully, not by rote.
The right person to guide kids through K-8 science needs to know high school and college science so well that they actually understand it all and know what kids will need in order to build a similar level of understanding.
The right person needs to know how learning works in the brain and how to build knowledge, not just stuff a kid full of facts.
The right person must be able to clearly communicate concepts in plain English while also introducing science terms in a way that makes sense so that they become normal words in a child’s vocabulary.
Dr. Robin understood this problem and created Dr. Robin’s School to provide families with the science education their kids need. We started with Human Biology because that is what is the most meaningful science to students and it brings together every branch of science.
Chemistry and General Biology are coming next!