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girls and K-12 science education

PQQ at psuvm.psu.edu PQQ at psuvm.psu.edu
Mon Jan 18 19:47:25 EST 1993

I think kids form values pretty early on in life (mostly before
junior high-middle school), so their early education and the
message they get from teachers is important.  Naturally, parental
encouragement is necessary, too.  It would be easy to lay much of the
blame for the reluctance of some girls-women to enter science and
math fields on elementary teachers.  My contacts with students and faculty
in our Col. of Educ. tell me that not much science ed. gets taught to
new elementary teachers, so it's not surprising they don't find it very
easy to encourage young kids.  It might be that these teachers have
shied away from science themselves and they pass that on to others.  Since
these (usally female) teachers are pretty strong role models for these
developing minds the message gets passed on.  What we can do as scientists
is to offer our help (as is being done in Seattle).  I have found elementary
teachers to be receptive.  They need some tools that work.  They may lack
some of the background, but most of them know they are skimping on science.
So, we (and our professional societies) need to lend a hand, build some
bridges, give away some ideas, invite teachers in, go see them.  But, I
don't think we should tell them what they need (right away).  First we
should ask what they want.  I agree that we need to integrate science and
math, teach processes, but first we have to get the teachers interested
and feeling like they know what they are doing.
That's my feeling.  Too simplistic?

Dick Pratt BITNET:pqq at psuvm  INTERNET: pqq at psuvm.psu.edu
7 Ferguson Bldg.
Penn State
University Park, PA  16802   814/865-6942

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