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Curriculum Issues

"Use of Research in Teaching and Learning"

The pressure to produce in the education profession has increased tremendously and seems to be coming from every quarter, from parents to politicians. The concern has spawned another periodic reform movement that involves a host of professional organizations as well as individual attempts at restructuring curriculum. The politicians have stepped in and demanded accountability by testing without regard to reliability or validity. Unfortunately, there seems to be a great chasm between the cognitive scientist and the educational theorist and an even wider gap between the theorist and the practitioner. In order to change the scientific literacy rate from its current 7% of the U.S. population by an order of magnitude, we need to do something beyond designing a few learning cycles that incorporate some social science and writing skills or worse continue to beat teachers and students with tests and more tests.

We need to develop some educational engineers that have the ability to actually meld together the educational philosophies of the likes of Comenius, Dewey, Ausubel and Piaget into a working schema to deliver truly integrated subject matter in a logical, natural, and systematic format. Until this is done, we will not improve the science literacy rate by a factor of 10 and will be lucky to improve it by 10%.

Integration, sequence, timing and delivery are the key factors. What learning theory scientifically addresses all of these components of the educational process and points to a pragmatic approach for implementation? What curriculum has been developed that is based on appropriate theoretical postulates and holistically and faithfully follows them to pragmatic propositions? What curriculum materials are available that facilitate the delivery of the theory-based curriculum in a rightful manner? What program helps build a meaningful, useful cognitive structure of knowledge and skills in the minds of our youth?

Without specific and truthful answers to these questions attempts at teacher education reform will yield low returns regardless of increased funding, legislation, time or testing.