Questioning What & Who We Teach

So, as a science teacher there are many things that we teach because...well, probably because we learned them in school.  Within that category would be the stages of mitosis, the formulas for photosynthesis and cellular respiration, etc.  But, I question  why do we really teach them?  Are they relevant to the lives of our students?  Does the average American need this information to be successful in their lives?  To make informed decisions?  Or are we just perpetuating the traditional methods because it's what feels warm and cozy?

I would hazard to say that, no, they are not necessary.  So, I guess it is not a surprise that something like the names of the phases of mitosis will not be assessed under the NGSS.  And you know what?  I've heard complaints from more than one teacher at this point about this specific assessment boundary (HS-LS1-4).  And I think these complaints underlie a much bigger issue: that, in many schools, science education has been for the elite, the STEM-career bound or the simply the college-bound.  Shouldn't science be for everyone?  Isn't it more important that you understand why cell division is important?  Or even what can happen when it goes wrong?  (Hint: What's the cause behind Pinktober?)

So, I applaud the writers of the Framework and the NGSS for giving us relevant, deep and thought-provoking science standards that will advance science education for all - much in the same light as the vision for science education outlined in "Science for All Americans" some 25 years ago.  It's one thing to have it in the standards, but it will take a big shift in the way science is taught for many science educators.

PS. I can still enjoy Willy Banta's awesome "It's Mitosis!" song set to "My Sharona" by The Knack, right??  Trust me, it's awesome.