Teachers Column

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Are most elementary-school teachers afraid to handle batteries? Electrical wires? Frogs?

Robert Shrigley, an education professor at Pennsylvania State University who has studied teachers' attitudes toward science, finds that at the elementary level, where about 85 percent of teachers are women, many feel incompetent in the subject."They feel it's a male domain and men should teach it," Mr. Shrigley says.

To help teachers overcome this attitude and to extend the scope of science education in the early grades, Pennsylvania has announced a $300,000 statewide program that will offer science training to 210 elementary teachers on seven university campuses next year. The course is designed to expose teachers more directly to scientific equipment and to improve their skills and self-confidence in performing experiments.

The six-week, tuition-free program will run from June 22 to Aug. 8; travel expenses will be partially refunded, Mr. Shrigley says. To qualify, applicants must be teachers (not substitutes) and must be recommended by their principals, he added. Those who complete the course will receive three college credits.

Further information is available from Mr. Shrigley at Pennsylvania State University, (814) 865-5433.

More science is also on the way for Wisconsin's future crop of elementary-school teachers.

State officials have ruled that the study of environmental problems, such as radioactive wastes and ground-water pollution, should not be postponed until secondary school. Recently, the officials amended state rules to require prospective elementary-level teachers to study environmental education during their teacher-training program.

The new rule applies to teachers graduating after June 1985 and is the result of a three-year campaign by more than 60 local conservation groups, according to David Engleson, a spokesman for the Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction. The old rules required such training only for secondary-school teachers.

Under the new rule, all of the state's 31 teachers' colleges will have to integrate the new curriculum into their programs for elementary education, agriculture, science, and social studies.

For many years, Bob Haring, executive editor of The Tulsa World, has wanted to run a monthly profile of an outstanding local teacher.

This fall, he met James B. Treacy, chairman of Facet Enterprises, a manufacturer of filters, who had a similar wish: to reward an outstanding teacher with "enough money to make a difference in his life."

The two got together and created a new program that does both. Thus far, two teachers have been selected for monthly profiles, and each received $100 from Facet. Their schools were also awarded $100 by the newspaper, Mr. Haring said.

Next summer, a teacher selected from the monthly winners will win a $5,000 "Teacher of the Year" award from Facet, he said.--ha

Vol. 03, Issue 11

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