Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Too Much Science?

I have a friend who teaches elementary school. His school uses a science specialist model where all students receive science instruction in a pull-out model twice a week. While most of the elementary teachers at this school tend to leave the science instruction to the "specialist", my friend has put a lot of effort into supporting the science specialist by integrating science learning with his reading, writing, and math instruction. He is a dedicated professional with innovative ideas and an unwavering desire to prepare his students for success.

This evening I received a phone call from my friend. He had just heard through the "grape vine" that his administrator on several occasions has complained that he is teaching..."Too much science". I want to let that soak in a second. "Too much science" elementary school. This news was delivered to me in a joking and sarcastic way but his jovial tone was a thin veil for his hurt and anger. How was it possible that the leader of the school, the very person who should be the champion for science instruction, was capable of such shortsightedness? Why wasn't he being praised for his hard work, leadership, and dedication?

Now this is an elementary school (like so many others) where literacy is the focus; where most of the time, resources, PD, etc are dedicated to literacy instruction. Please don't get me wrong here. I'm an elementary teacher at heart and I get it. I want each student to be literate, yet I also want each student to be scientifically literate.

Why do some people possess this idea that literacy and science instruction are somehow mutually exclusive? I'm pretty sure that some of the most engaging and meaningful instruction intentionally integrates reading, writing, technology, math, science, art, and social studies.

I look forward to the day when "too much science" in elementary school is a legitimate concern and not a sad attack on an individual teacher's attempt to do what's best for kids.

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