Teach less, learn flaw
Posted April 13, 2011on:
Warning: Rant ahead…
Today, I blog as a parent whose child has started Primary school. But my perceptions are nowhere complete and I stand to be corrected.
I wonder why Science is not offered as a subject in the lower Primary levels. If Science is embedded in the other subjects, I’d be happy because then the subjects are not taught or learnt in silos. But there is little evidence that Science is taught or integrated into Math or English. There is some bad Science as I will illustrate later.
Science, or more specifically, the initial inquiry process of Science, is something most kids take to naturally. As they discover the world around them, they ask what something is, how something happens and why.
Good kindergartens seem to leverage on this by providing experiences and lessons on Science. Kids also learn about the world around them on their own, with the support of resources provided by their parents or from the books and computers in the local library. Just listen to kids talk about dinosaurs, exchange strategies on Plants vs Zombies or share what they read in Kids National Geographic magazine.
But when my son entered Primary 1, he did not get a formal or integrated Science curriculum. I did get a flyer from the school offering optional reading materials thoughtfully prepared by tree-killing publishers. Those materials were vastly inferior to resources freely available online.
My son’s school does have a LEGO NXT programme that is integrated with the rest of the curriculum, but that seems to happen much less often than the serendipitous Science lessons he gets outside school by watching kid-friendly TV, reading magazines and books, searching the Internet, making personal discoveries during our walks, etc.
I could start writing about how deschooling seems to make even more sense, but something else grabbed me by the eyeballs.
There was bad “Science” embedded in at least one English lesson (see highlighted questions in the worksheet). Kids should know that a kangaroo’s pouch is not tiny (a whole joey fits in there), that all rabbits do not have white tails (duh!) and that leopards do not have spots on their skin (it is their fur that creates the pattern).
I doubt that there is a conspiracy to squash the natural curiosities of kids by excluding Science from the early Primary curriculum. But there are factual errors in the existing curriculum that do no favours to Science.
I like “teach less, learn more” because doing that is an art. But I dislike “teach mess, learn flaw” because that is just irresponsible.