Teaching Science now in new revised and expanded edition!
From the Introduction: “Science teachers in Christian schools and home schools often bring a tremendous amount of interest, passion, and enthusiasm to their work…But in terms of teaching methodology, many simply teach science the way it was taught to them, the way it is commonly taught throughout the country. Unfortunately, the way science is commonly taught has not been successful for most students. Our brightest and best often do fine. The rest typically complete their high school programs knowing very little about science.”
Bringing in ten years of development since the original publication of this book, this new edition further advances the message of mastery-learning in the science course. This is a message that is sorely needed. Nationwide trends in science education have underserved most students with lower standards, dumbing down, domination by standardized tests, and methods that emphasize grades, college applications, and “fun” over learning science.
Teaching Science outlines the proven strategies that promote and enable the particular brand of “mastery” that John defines. Mastery describes the student who retains key content and skills for many months and years after the end of the course. It reinvigorates the goals and motivations of learning. It prepares students more effectively to engage in the adult world of science. And it creates a highly rewarding experience for the student and teacher.
With some new thinking and new practices in the classroom, teachers can create a fertile environment for student apprehension and retention of material. And with new study habits, effort, and goals, students can succeed in science class.
These innovative learning and teaching principles are applicable to all grade school students, public and private, Christian and non-Christian. But bringing a mature Christian orientation to the task of educating youth, John Mays grounds his concepts in the fundamental value of human beings, humans created in God’s image, and mankind’s stewardship over creation.
Teaching Science ranges from high-level theory about the nature of science and education all the way down to intensely practical ideas and activities that can be used in the classroom. The author addresses many topics: how homework should be handled, regular assessments, review and study strategies for students, classroom management, grading rubrics, lab experiments, integration of related subjects (math, history, writing, epistemology). He also addresses the daunting task of tackling student’s own subversion of their learning though mindless memorization, cheating, and obsession with social media and technology.
There is discussion about how the elementary school science program should be handled (lots of “hands on”) but the majority of the treatment deals with 7-12th grade.
Finally, Mays brings some rationality to the subject of evolution, which is highly controversial for many Christians. The mechanics of evolution should be taught for the sake scientific literacy. Students furthermore need to be conversant with this subject which is the central unifying paradigm of modern biology. This can be done, he argues, in a manner that creates space for students of varying opinions about evolution without scandalizing dearly held beliefs.
Readers of this book since its original publication have given it the highest praise. School headmasters and principles sometimes assign this book as summer reading for their faculty. It is even required reading at at least one Bachelor’s of Education program of an American Christian college.