In his article for Slate, David E. Drew outlines “five of the myths that are making it difficult for us to fix science education,” including the misconceptions of America’s deteriorating education system and the assumption that aptitude is primarily needed to excel in math and science.
Misconceptions or not, the Associated Press reports that according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (aka Nation’s Report Card), “American children do much better identifying the correct answers to simple scientific tasks than using evidence from their experiments to explain those answers.” One teacher in the article laments that teachers “have moved towards teaching more knowledge, as opposed to the understanding behind that knowledge.”
Although certainly one facet of the issue, Drew also highlights the difficulty in retaining teachers in the education field:
We need more excellent teachers, and attracting top students into STEM teaching helps. The problem, however, is not recruiting people into teaching. The problem is keeping them in teaching. Teachers work very hard. They are not paid enough. They endure great stress daily. These factors drive many out of the profession. A study by the National Education Association found that the five year dropout rate for new teachers is 50 percent.
It’s like pouring water into a sieve. We must develop and implement effective strategies for retaining the talented people who choose this profession. Most important is professional development, the process of renewing and upgrading teacher knowledge and competencies.
The state of math and science education in America is a nationwide challenge. But with challenges come opportunities.
Since 1924, Nazareth has been producing great teachers, and the College’s network of thousands of graduates has left its mark on upstate New York and beyond. Many of the region’s most innovative and inspiring teachers got their start at Nazareth. In addition to partnerships such as Tech2Teach with RIT, the September opening of the Integrated Center for Math and Science in Peckham Hall will be yet another opportunity for the College to better educate and prepare the math and science teachers of the future.