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Old 05-10-2012, 07:43 PM
 
422 posts, read 2,250,774 times
Reputation: 515

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Okay so I see this article today about how only a third of PA 8th Graders are proficient in science. What is the deal with people learning science and math? Out of all the subjects I've taken throughout my career it's the science and math courses that seem to confuse people and I'm not sure why. And I'm not talking high level math or science either. And I'm not really talking about 8th grade students either, but just in general when it comes to high school students and most adults. I've said it before and I'll say it again, when it comes to math and science the general public is so unbelievably dumb it's quite embarrassing.

For some odd reason people just don't understand basic basic science, and I'm not kidding when I say this either. I always found it interesting when I see large amounts of freshmen entering schools like Bloomsburg University as biology majors and then seeing that number literally cut in half by the end of the first year, if not the end of the first semester. They must see the course requirements and the lab requirements and say 'hell no' and switch majors and go into something else like business, which I'm not saying is a bad thing. In general, do most people find basic biology and physical science tough to understand? And if so, what exactly is it that they don't understand? Maybe it's the way it's being taught, maybe it's their homelife or their upbringing, not sure but it's quite alarming to see so many people unable to understand basic basic science and math. How do we as a society help change the way most people think about everyday science and math?
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:14 AM
 
Location: Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA
3,882 posts, read 3,555,989 times
Reputation: 7153
You can't bluff your way through science or math. Either your test answers are right, or they are wrong. That turns people off who have been brought up hearing that they are special, and that there are no wrong answers, only wrong questions. That's why people major in English, Communications, etc.
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Pocono Mts.
9,483 posts, read 10,926,042 times
Reputation: 11390
I certainly do not consider myself dumb, but to me, looking at a math problem or numbers in general... is quite frustrating! I could draw or write or do something creative all day, happy as a clam.. buy you make me figure something out mathmatical and I promise to fall apart. Science, I got it on lock.. math, locks me up.

Sometimes my kids bring home math homework that they need help with - PANIC time.. are you serious, letters in math... parentheses in math? Math is numbers - not letters and symbols!! right?
am I right?!

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Old 05-11-2012, 08:16 AM
 
3,525 posts, read 3,028,675 times
Reputation: 3448
This is the big lie of globalization, that you can destroy your industry and everyone will become scientists or engineers in a service economy.

The truth is that very few students have the brains (you really need an IQ of at least 115, better if it's close to 125), plus the drive and the temperament to become an electrical engineer with a master's degree.

Most university students who start in engineering or hard science drop out. See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/ed...me&ref=general.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:19 AM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
14,277 posts, read 11,624,769 times
Reputation: 10682
Quote:
Originally Posted by drsmiley06 View Post
Okay so I see this article today about how only a third of PA 8th Graders are proficient in science. What is the deal with people learning science and math? Out of all the subjects I've taken throughout my career it's the science and math courses that seem to confuse people and I'm not sure why. And I'm not talking high level math or science either. And I'm not really talking about 8th grade students either, but just in general when it comes to high school students and most adults. I've said it before and I'll say it again, when it comes to math and science the general public is so unbelievably dumb it's quite embarrassing.

For some odd reason people just don't understand basic basic science, and I'm not kidding when I say this either. I always found it interesting when I see large amounts of freshmen entering schools like Bloomsburg University as biology majors and then seeing that number literally cut in half by the end of the first year, if not the end of the first semester. They must see the course requirements and the lab requirements and say 'hell no' and switch majors and go into something else like business, which I'm not saying is a bad thing. In general, do most people find basic biology and physical science tough to understand? And if so, what exactly is it that they don't understand? Maybe it's the way it's being taught, maybe it's their homelife or their upbringing, not sure but it's quite alarming to see so many people unable to understand basic basic science and math. How do we as a society help change the way most people think about everyday science and math?
Set up an account (for free) at Khan Academy: http://www.khanacademy.org/
Then get your kids to do their practice exercises. They get rewarded for doing the exercises correctly and picking up speed.

I found this refreshing for an old memory - that forgot some of what I knew. They also have the classroom lectures. I started with math - but their courses cover many subjects.

I love free!
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:23 AM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
16,256 posts, read 10,259,629 times
Reputation: 28192
letters and symbols are part of math. Numbers too!

I like math but not science. go figure.

Although I think education is part of it, I also think some people just don't get it, try as they might. Take counted cross stitch: you bring the thread up in one hole, down in another. Not rocket science but a lot of people just can't do it.

I very strongly disagree with giving every kid a passing grade but I guess that's another topic.
Anyone diagram a sentence lately?

Last edited by PAhippo; 05-11-2012 at 08:24 AM.. Reason: word omission
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:26 AM
 
Location: Texas
43,408 posts, read 52,393,689 times
Reputation: 70378
Because it requires patience and discipline.

Everything that requires patience and discipline is harder and less conducive to retention.

It also requires complex integration of many different concepts. You have to fully understand one thing to understand the next thing. Then you have to understand how to address and fit it into a relevant framework.

Even when some liberal arts get advanced enough and it requires this approach to thinking, it gets difficult, too. You should have seen the grades plummet in Spanish majors once they hit the linguistics portion of their major. Or more advanced literary criticism.
Suddenly, the native speakers were out of their element, and the people who could do the complex integration and analysis came to the top.

Hell, you think English is easy? Look around this forum. Most people on here can barely string together a grammatically sound sentence.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Location: Location
6,343 posts, read 7,792,879 times
Reputation: 18564
I can't speak for "most" people, but certainly in my own case, the science teachers, (Mr. Ritter comes to mind) and the math teachers (Helloooo, Mrs. Gaskill) were so boring and mind-numbing in their presentations that they could induce sleep in an insomniac.

Given that many people have focused on careers that don't rely on science or math, their eyes tend to glaze over when faced with either subject. Additionally, our educational system doesn't really push people to excel. The "A" students are generally encouraged by their parents and not all parents have that level of involvement with their children.

I have watched my two youngest grandkids doing homework and I must say, some of the methods of instilling understanding of math concepts are so convoluted that I have trouble grasping what it is they're trying to achieve. (First and fourth graders)

What's worse, the age of the internet has made it (learning) almost unnecessary. Got a question? Google the answer. Problem solved. Not many people are motivated to learn something simply for learning's sake. I'm of the opinion that whatever the subject and however useful or useless it may be in future, you learn how to think logically and critically and that is helpful no matter what you may be doing.
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Old 05-11-2012, 09:09 AM
 
39,190 posts, read 40,571,673 times
Reputation: 16071
Quote:
Originally Posted by theatergypsy View Post
I can't speak for "most" people, but certainly in my own case, the science teachers, (Mr. Ritter comes to mind) and the math teachers (Helloooo, Mrs. Gaskill) were so boring and mind-numbing in their presentations that they could induce sleep in an insomniac.
I had the most fantastic math teacher in 6th grade (Hello Mr. Sattof), everyone paid attention and I mean everyone. He taught by example and would go off on what seemed like some side adventure dealing with the stock market, space or any other imaginable topic and always somehow managed to bring it back to the math he was teaching. If every teacher was like him you could just call it class and no one would need need to go to another subject. For example one exercise he did was to bring in the Wall Street Journal, he let the class split up into groups and gave each group X fake dollars to buy stocks. You could use them just like you buying and selling real stocks. The group at the end of the year with the most money had a free pizza party he paid for.

Last edited by thecoalman; 05-11-2012 at 09:24 AM..
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Old 05-11-2012, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Portsmouth Virginia
411 posts, read 1,163,896 times
Reputation: 190
Well to add two cents...
I am a career science teacher (32 years!!!) and am currently a science specialist and planetarium director for my district. I have been in the trenches and have seen a lot of methods come and go..

What I see as major problems from the inside:

Standardized testing being the be all and end all. Kids have learned to take tests, not increase their understanding of the nature of science (thank you politicians and NCLB!)

A general refusal to accept good science in favor of political pressures - creationism, global climate change, laws of thermodynamics...(thank you Rush Limbaugh for branding Environmentalist Wackos)
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