The Misrepresentation of Science

By Liana Loewus — October 28, 2010 1 min read
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Eric Brunsell over at Edutopia says it’s spooky how badly we’re mis-teaching science in schools:

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a commercial science supply company with a list of neat Halloween "experiments." I couldn't help but be irritated as I read through the directions. Sure, they were fun activities, but experiments? Nothing was being tested. The explanations claimed that the reactions were "magical." They are shallow activities that horribly misrepresent the process of science. I should let it slide because it is Halloween. However, the reality is that I run across these types of "experiments" from commercial vendors and web-based lesson collections almost daily.

He says that textbooks explain the “scientific method” as a linear process with defined steps—problem, hypothesis, experimentation, observation, and conclusion. But science, in reality, is “a highly creative, dynamic, social and human endeavor,” Brunsell claims.

Students should learn how real scientists conduct their investigations—which is rarely by doing methodical experiments alone in a room, he argues. More often, scientists collaborate, raise questions, repeat steps, and tap into their creative intelligence.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.