In the March 2003 issue of The Science Teacher, I stated that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) can make a difference in Science for All, provided science educators move progressively forward with this reform effort. I still believe in that statement. As schools work hard to achieve “highly qualified teachers” by 2005–2006 and improve teaching and learning, science teachers must also work hard to design and implement high quality multicultural and equity teaching practices.
A good theme to follow in the effort to meet needs of diverse learners in science education is “Teaching with Purpose,” which was crafted by NSTA President John Penick as the theme and focus for his presidency. “Teaching with Purpose means having a personal guiding framework for our teaching practices—a framework based on what research says works best in teaching and learning science” (Penick 2003, p. 46).
NCLB also requires that science educators use research-based teaching strategies. The following documents are excellent resources for science educators to use as personal guiding frameworks when designing and implementing high-quality multicultural and equity teaching practices: NSTA Position Statement on Multicultural Science Education, adopted in July 2000 (NSTA 2003–2004); NSTA Position Statement on Gender Equity in Science Education, adopted July, 2003 (NSTA 2003–2004); and the National Science Education Standards (NRC 1996). The preparation of each document required extensive review and utilization of both research-based and theoretically based professional literature.
- Teachers can develop their own steps as personal guiding frameworks or can use the following:
- Review the position statement’s preamble/introduction, rationale, and declarations;
- Identify declarations and other ideas that apply to the science instructional unit;
- Create a checklist of the declarations and other ideas that apply to the science instructional unit;
- Research topics for answers to why (rationale), what, how to, and other questions; and
- Keep a journal.
For example, a declaration of the Position Statement on Multicultural Science Education that applies to a unit on space exploration could be “Curricular content must incorporate the contributions of many cultures to our knowledge of science” (NSTA 2003–2004, p. 206). On a checklist, this declaration could simply be paraphrased and listed as “Curricular content incorporates contributions of many cultures to our knowledge of space exploration.” This declaration reinforces rationale and provides an answer to teachers who may be asking the question, “Why am I emphasizing the contributions of John Glenn, Sally Ride, Mae Jemison, the International Space Station, and others in my unit on space exploration?” Teachers may need to answer basic questions prior to the rationale question, such as: “What particular cultures made contributions and which cultures should I emphasize in my space exploration unit?” In this kind of inquiry, teachers ask and answer their own questions. The NSTA position statements and the Standards, when used as personal guiding frameworks, can enhance science units, teaching, and learning for ALL learners.
Two members of the Multicultural/Equity in Science Education Committee—Jerry Valdez from Fresno, California, and Lynn Young from Houston, Texas—and I presented workshops titled Is There Equity in My Teaching? and What About Inquiry, Science Literacy and the Standards? at the NSTA 2002 Regional Conventions. Please join me and the rest of the Multicultural/Equity in Science Education Committee at NSTA’s National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, April 1–4, 2004. We will serve up a wide variety of multicultural and equity science teaching ideas and copies of Personal Guiding Frameworks at the Multicultural Share-a-thon on April 2. On a broader scale, enrich your science education professional development at NSTA 2004 in Atlanta. You will have more than 1200 sessions to choose from. See you there!
Cherry C. Brewton
NSTA Division Director,
Multicultural/Equity in Science Education
Georgia Southern University
National Research Council (NRC). 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). 2003–2004. National Science Teachers Association Handbook 2003–2004. Arlington, Va.: NSTA.
Penick, J.E. 2003. Teaching with purpose. NSTA Reports 14(6): 46.