Reviewed by Marilyn Cook
From contemporary challenges to a prespective on science teaching reform, author Rodger W. Bybee takes readers from the past to the future in this succinct summary of our field. Bybee first introduces the key leaders who shaped science education in the 20th century. Challenges that we face as teachers in the 21st century are then put into context. These challenges include achieving scientific literacy, reforming science programs, improving knowledge and skills, attaining higher levels of achievement for all students, and the challenge that is crucial to good science teaching (and the teaching of other content areas as well)—teaching science as inquiry.
Chapters in this book address the teaching of science content, science curriculum, science assessment, assessing students' science literacy, using curriculum reform to fulfill national aspirations, developing 21st century skills, and reform in science teaching. Current evidence from neuroscience research and on the teaching of metacognitive skills is helping teachers and therefore students work through common preconceptions. The book presents research about the 5E instructional model (developed at the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study while Bybee was executive director). It's important for teachers to know that science learning is taking place using this model as students are actively working as information is processed.
The author also presents the paradox of leadership: the science teacher may encourage change in science programs and practices but still have to support past programs and practices. And what book for teachers would be complete, or at least realistic, if politics weren't mentioned? The author does a good job of briefly addressing issues that science teachers face when trying to make a difference for students in the way science is taught and in the teaching behaviors of other teachers; the goal is for 21st century science teaching to be of a high quality and be based on how students best learn science. Hopefully we can get this right before the year 2061 (credit to Project 2061 and Science for All Americans).
Because the author places the challenges we face in a context that takes into account seminal educators from the last century, this book is essential for both pre- and in-service science teachers. It will help them to reflect on the current practice of science teaching and on their own practice as well. I would use this book as a resource for a professional learning community book study and recommend it for all science teachers, current and future. It can help make science teaching and learning "real."
Review posted on 12/10/2010