Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, recently interviewed Craig Barrett, the chief executive of Intel, which has invested millions of dollars in trying to improve the way science is taught in U.S. schools. In today’s flat world, Mr. Barrett said, Intel can be a totally successful company without ever hiring another American. That is not its desire or intention, he said, but the fact is that it can now hire the best brain talent “wherever it resides.”

If you look at where Intel is making its new engineering investments today, he said, it is in China, India, Russia, Poland and, to a lesser
extent, Malaysia and Israel. While cutting-edge talent is still being grown in America, he added, it’s not enough for Intel’s needs, and not enough is being done in U.S. public schools – not just to leave no child behind, but to make sure that the best students and teachers are nurtured and rewarded.

What’s the solution? Stop squeezing science of out of the elementary curriculum! Our young children today will never become the scientists of tomorrow if we continue to put science on the pack burner until we have time to teach it in class. Elementary teachers will tell you that unless they personally make a concentrated effort to integrate the teaching of science into the other disciplines, there’s just little time left at the end of the day to teach science. Hey, if you’re a parent reading this and your child is doing tons of science in class, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. As a science education consultant, I can assure you that science is slowly becoming an “extra-curricular” activity in elementary schools across the country. Many teachers are afraid to teach science because their training in science was nothing more than an outdated science methods class in college. And it’s tough to get a kid excited about science with a worksheet. It’s kind of like trying to teach a kid to play the piano by looking at pictures of pianos, reading stories about pianos and doing crossword puzzles about pianos. It just doesn’t work.

Let the words of Craig Barrett be a wake-up call to Superintendents and school district leaders across the country when it comes to training elementary teachers to get kids excited about learning science. Without this all important introduction to science in the elementary years, our children will be less than motivated to want to learn science in their middle and high school years.

So, the next time you drop the kids off at school, make a quick trip to the Principals office to learn more about his or her plan to integrate more science into the core the curriculum. What professional development training are the teachers receiving to become better science teachers? Is someone really looking out for the future of your children? Serious? You bet. Are you willing to risk your child’s future on the poor decisions of a few people today?

7 replies
  1. Mark T Jones
    Mark T Jones says:

    I will treasure the day when someone finally panics for real. I have been doing a Science Olympiad team for 10 years now and cant get anyone to pay me as much as the cheerleader sponsor let alone a football coach. Science Olympiad is a 15 person competition in 23 different events and we run 3 or 4 competitive teams and a few more teams for rookies. I am a science teacher and put in about 300 – 400 extra hours to do an extra curricular activity that meets almost every day and affects on average 60 – 70 students a year with results. I do get a stipend that comes out to be about $4/hr. We are consistently ranked in the top 20 in the nation. I proposed each year that a rubric be put in place that sets equal compensation for academic teams as athletic teams. Needless to say, in Alabama, there isn’t the same desire for science as football. Check out our stats in teacher pay (48th in the nation). I often think about quiting the after school to dedicate more time to my family, but I haven’t made that leap yet.

    One interesting note is that Alabama is trying to revolutionize science and math in the classroom. Lots of professional development is being done including teacher training in inquiry-based science. Where the bureaucracy is missing the point is that these teachers are not being rewarded for their time and effort in hardly any way. I believe the going rate for spending time outside of your contact ot better yourself as a teacher is $15/hr. I know a few teachers that make more mowing lawns in the summer.

    Reply
  2. Kelly Alsup
    Kelly Alsup says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for writing this article. TN is one of the lowest ranking states in Science and it is disgraceful to hear what our teachers/school officials are doing about it. Your frustrations are echoed by many here in Nashville.

    Reply
  3. Eden@lawrenceburg tennessee
    [email protected] tennessee says:

    Not only are they squeezing science out of the classroom but around here they’re dropping physical education/health classes to nothing. No wonder childhood obesity is such a problem today.

    We I was in school we had recess everyday either outside or in the gym if it was raining but they’re lucky to get PE twice a week now.

    Reply
  4. Sports Player News
    Sports Player News says:

    What kind of science education do they have in the Chinas and Indias? Thing is that cutting edge work in science disciplines is still being done in the US. The jobs that are being created overseas are due to the low cost, not superior science skills.

    Reply
  5. Steve Spangler
    Steve Spangler says:

    They have great science education in China and India. Ever seen a Chinese science text book? It’s thin compared to our standards for a text book. Instead of trying to cover a myriad of topics, they cover fewer topics and make sure the students master the content. Bottom line… it’s working.

    Reply
  6. Quick Facts
    Quick Facts says:

    You you could change the webpage subject No Need to Hire Americans – A Wake-up Call to all Parents | Steve Spangler's Blog to something more better for your blog post you make. I loved the post still.

    Reply

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