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PART VI Accomplishing Curricular Changes Institutional Barriers
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~7 Educational Reform? Are We Serious? No, but We Had Better Be. JOHN ~ MOORE In a recent editorial, Koshland (1988) had this to say: The nation is intoxicated with huffing, puffing, and crocodile tears as a substitute for policy in the war on drugs. With minor modifications, that cn de coeur characterizes our problem: The nation is intoxicated with huffing, puffing, and crocodile tears as a substitute for policy on educational reform. The general solutions to our problems are obvious and have been for years. We know what needs to be done, but so far there is a pervasive un- willingness to make the necessary changes in the educational establishment to achieve the ends said to be desired. The welfare of the nation requires students with a willingness to learn; teachers fully capable of stimulating and supporting that learning; excellent textbooks, educational equipment, and facilities; political leaders with courage, vision, and ability; and, above all, a society willing to make the sacrifices that will produce the educational system the nation deserves. But every segment of the educational establishment is inadequate to some degree, and that means that every segment is to some degree a barrier John ~ Moore is professor of biology, emeritus, University of California, Riverside. He led the team that developed the yellow version of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) biology text in the 1960s; is a director of the Science as a Way of Knowing project of the American Society of Zoologists; and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. 245
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246 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY to educational reform. It also means that acceptable and sustainable reform will require a fundamental change in us for we are an integral part of the educational system. We are all well-meaning, of course. We gather regularly in meetings like this and issue ukases on what should and must be done. The fact that we repeat again and again what a series of similar committees have been saying for years reassures us that we are "on the right track." Although there has been a tireless and tiresome listing of what should be done, little effort has gone into doing it. Our task should be to bridge the gap between rhetoric and response. And we have a chance-we are asked to advise the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which has the resources to take effective action. This long history of huffing and puffing raises an interesting question: Are we really serious and willing to work for educational reform, or are these many meetings just another example of one of academe's favorite devices- study the problem until it goes away or until the next problem takes its place? I am not at all sure that the academic community has the stomach to undertake what must be done. Really effective reform would be so difficult and so pervasive that many will elect to settle for the appearance of action, rather than demand action itself. Reform will threaten every one of us and it should. What will reform require? I mentioned the main goals at the start, so let me briefly outline the problems as I see them. · Our students are undereducated. National tests and international comparisons find our precollege students poorly informed in science, math- ematics, geography, and whatever else the testers choose to test. Some students in Texas are unsure of what lies south of the Rio Grande that is, if they know about the Rio Grande. Others cannot place the United States on a blank map of the world. We hope to educate these young souls so that our nation can remain a world leader, but this may be difficult if they are not all that sure where the world is. · And why are they ignorant? It cannot be a deterioration of their genetic makeup, so it must be a combination of how they are raised and how they are taught. We can do little about how they are raised, but we must do much more about how they are taught at all levels. How do the teachers stack up? Some are surely among the most wonderful, dedicated, and competent members of society. At the same time, many are poorly trained in the sciences, and many high-school biology classes are taught by former majors in home economics or physical education. Salaries and working conditions for teachers are often such that few of the most gifted undergraduates would consider a teaching career in the precollege grades.
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EDUCATIONAL REFORM? ARE HE SERIOUS? 247 · Should we blame the teachers? No; and now we reach the crux of the problem-we should blame the colleges and universities. It is they which select, educate, and certify the teachers-to-be. If there is something wrong with the teachers' education, the universities cannot escape a major responsibility. (I am excluding from analysis all the other factors, about which we can do little, that tend to lessen the effectiveness of teachers: salary, working conditions, position in society, etc.~. How do we scholars in the great universities the flagships of educa- tion, so to speak go about educating the teachers-to-be for what is one of the most critical tasks in society? For the most part, we ignore these young students, rarely encourage them to undertake what should be a noble career, and at times actively discourage them by suggesting that they will be wasting their lives. I know of no disciplinary department in a great university that would consider it acceptable to encourage and help to educate an outstanding student for a career of teaching in the schools. The goal of the education we profess has Stockholm, not the Little Red School House, at the end of the road. And why does this (to me) intolerable situation exists The answer from the typical university professor in science is that one can get away with such behavior, and in fact there is strong encouragement to do so. The criterion for advancement and reputation is research, but even that is being replaced by the size of one's research grant. Gone are the days when fine scholarship and fine teaching were demanded by the system. The view now seems to be that any fineness devoted to teaching must mean less fineness in research and grantsmanship. In a zero-sum game, it cannot be otherwise. This state of affairs exists because those who lead the universities and those who lead society make little effort to promote or demand a deep commitment to quality education. In fact, one can maintain that there is no national leadership in education. The educational system costs more in money and manpower than does the Pentagon yet we have no generals. The educational system works on the principle of letting 1,000 cowers bloom, but too many of those flowers have withered. Let me give a specific example of how one segment of leadership works-or does not work. A mandate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health is to support science. This is normally interpreted by the agencies and the scientific establishment to mean support of scientific research. One most promising way to do this is to support the work of first-class scientists. An equally important activity would be to support first-class education for the K-16 years. A generation ago, NSF did gallant and effective work in science education, but then
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248 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY reaction to "Man, a Course of Study" (MACOS) and pressures from far- right politicians soured the educational programs. But don't blame NSF entirely. When all this was going on, both the scientific and educational establishments tended to look the other way. Only recently has NSF again shown a deep interest in educational reform. Let us hope that a balance will be reached and that the agencies will be equally concerned with the production of good science and of good scientists. NSFs basic concern with the support of research has a negative effect on education. Consider this: One can include in a research proposal requests for funds to hire someone to do the teaching of the principal investigator, so the principal investigator can get on with the real work research. Could there be a clearer message of the relative importance of teaching and research? How bankrupt can we get? This attitude pervades the administrations and faculties of the uni- versities. Excellence in research confers status and prestige for both the individual and the institution, but must that result in the acceptance of less-distinguished or even mediocre teaching? The futures of science, soci- ety, and the universities all depend on quality education. If we forget that, surely we are shooting ourselves in the foot. But what can be done? All that needs to be, if we so wish. Nothing new has to be discovered, should we decide that education must be re- formed; furthermore, a great deal could be accomplished even with existing resources. Let us assume that our goal really is to prepare our students to be able to make informed decisions about themselves, their communities, their nation, and their world in the on-rushing serious problems that have a scientific component. The first thing that we have to accept is that the minuscule amount of science that our students receive is inadequate. We have been told that there is only a trivial difference in knowledge of biology between students who have taken a biology course and those who have not. I suggest that our goal can be achieved only if the percentage of school work devoted to the sciences is increased to about 20-25% of the curricu- lum, instead of the 2-5% that now prevails. And I am most certainly not talking about a 10-fold increase in the sort of science now generally taught. We all know the sort needed: hands-on activities, inquiry orientation, inter- disciplinary approaches (including the nonscience disciplines), emphasis on concepts, and the avoidance of a plethora of unneeded and unused facts. Most important, science education must begin with young children, and they must be partners with teachers who will help them uncover nature and not stifle that sense of wonder and joy in living things that is every child's birthright. The science taught must be organized to accomplish the most with a minimum of repetition. If the elementary-school years could be devoted
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EDUCATIONAL REFORM? ARE WE SERIOUS? 249 to learning about nature-animals, plants, and the environment and the middle-school years to ourselves and our place in that environment, the young student would reach the high-school years with an understanding of biology considerably better than that held by students who have had only a year of tenth-grade biology. That would mean that high-school biology could be set at a level that would allow serious and informed consideration, not only of important human problems that biology and the other sciences have something to say about, but also of selected areas of modern biology that are providing such deep and exciting insights into the phenomena of the natural world. Such a plan would make meaningless that recurring question: How can we cover biology in a single year, when we have to include all those current major advances in this major field of science? It is astonishing that we ever thought we could, or should. All this will require a revolution in the way biology and the other sciences are taught, and such a revolution must involve the entire nation; and above all it demands direction and leadership. I suggest that such leadership must come from a highly respected, nongovernment organization that will support reform of the teaching of science at all levels: seeking to increase the fraction of the curriculum devoted to science, improving the teaching force, demanding adequate resources from local and national governments, seeing that fine textbooks are available, encouraging the colleges and universities to take seriously the education of all students (including those seeking a career in teaching), and providing models for appropriate science for the various grades. One of the most important functions for such an organization would be to make suggestions for a sequence of topics appropriate for each grade level. There must be more science in the curriculum, and there must be nationwide agreement on what this should be. If we accept that far more science must be taught, a common weakness in our standard approach will be avoided. Whenever we assemble to tale about what should be taught in high-school biology, we make our recommendations on the assumptions that students have had no biology before and that we need not lay a basis for any that might be taken in more advanced grades. The goal should be to establish what biology is to be taught in each grade, not which grade is to receive the single massive dose. Another thing that a central organization could do, in contrast with what most committees do, is recognize that many people throughout many years have been dealing with the same basic problems. There is a body of information and experience that is valuable and should not be ignored by each new committee as it often is. A central organization could not only
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250 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY synthesize what is known, but also coordinate the efforts of all toward the improvement of science teaching in the schools. Such an organization should be headed by the most vigorous and visible leaders of our great universities, scientific institutions, and public and government organizations. I am talking about powerful people who care and who are effective in making a clear distinction between activity and accomplishment. Such leadership could supervise the permanent staff and associated committees that would attempt to translate goals into programs and products. Such an activity would have to involve real teachers and close working relations with state and local school districts, publishers, and the institutions that prepare students for careers in teaching. Will society, and especially the educational establishment, buy this? Probably not, without considerable pressure. But is there any alternative, if we are to achieve our stated goal? There must be a national group that will set standards and offer advice. There cannot be a nationwide reform unless there is an organized nationwide reform effort. Surely we have enough evidence to recognize the nearly total ineffectiveness of this seemingly endless stream of committees bent on educational reform that merely promulgate, and then disband. There is no longer a need to analyze what is wrong; we know what it is and in a general way what the remedies must be. In fact, there may be merit in proposing a moratorium on reform- minded committees unless there is a firm link to a planned program or product. Maybe we can help to make something very worthwhile happen. We had better. We recognize that our educational system is short-changing the nation and that the system is our responsibility. But even more serious is the fact that we are short-changing our young people and those who teach them. We must change the system so that students will understand and take joy in the natural world and protect it, as it in turn provides for them. They must be able to deal with the many serious problems that affect all of us and wild nature as well. And we must change the system so that teachers can take joy in their profession and what they profess and will be allowed to hold the position that they should in society- because they are doing the basic work of civilization. Sustainable reform of high-school biology will require far more than tinkering with the high-school biology curriculum. That approach has been tried repeatedly, and the problem is, if anything, more serious than ever. Sustainable reform will come only when the colleges and universities effectively educate those who will teach in the schools. The high-school science-curriculum course must be a culmination of the students' rich experience in biology and the other sciences throughout elementary-school and junior-high-school years.
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EDUCATIONAL REFORM? ARE ~ SERIOUS? 251 We must also explore mechanisms for developing greatly improved text and laboratory materials. This would be a radical reform and realistically would require imple- mentation over a period of years. Thus, an interim solution would seem to require two sorts of high-school programs. The first, and transitory, course would take the students as they are now and provide a single-year course as good as possible so good that the students would know more biology at the end than those who had not taken the course. The development of a second type of high-school course should become the main thrust of our efforts. It would be the culminating and synthetic approach mentioned before and would be based on a good knowledge of science obtained in the elementary-school and middle-school years. It could be taken in the tenth grade. If this ideal K-10 program could be achieved, it is more than likely that many students would profit from a more advanced course in the twelfth grade. 1b make all this possible, we should explore the possibility of encour- aging the formation of a new, permanent, nationwide organization or the modification and energizing of an existing one, to catalyze the reform. In the conditions of modern life . . . the race which does not value trained intelligence is doomed. Not all your heroism, not all your social charm, not all your victories on land or at sea, can move back the finger of fate. To-day we maintain ourselves. I7o-morrow science will have moved forward yet one more step, and there will be no appeal from the judgment which will then be pronounced on the uneducated. [Whitehead, 1929~. REFERENCES Koshland, D. E., Jr. 1988. Thinking tough. Science 241:1273. Whitehead, A. N. 1929. The Aims of Education, pp. 22-23. New York: Macmillan.
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28 Institutional Barriers to School Change PETER W. AIRASIAN INTRODUCTION Identifying institutional barriers to meaningful educational change re- quires consideration of schools at No levels. First, schools as a group must be viewed as social institutions that interact with and are influenced by an array of other social institutions. Schools are not free to operate independently of these external social agencies and institutions, which look to the schools to foster a variety of desired personal and social outcomes in pupils. Second, schools and school systems must be viewed as entities unto themselves, each with its own bureaucracy, personnel, budget, clients, and resources. The dynamics existing within and among these bureaucratic factors create inherent barriers to change. At both levels, schools are best thought of as conservative institutions; their inherent impetus for change is not great, and their programs, policies, goals, and agendas are determined largely by groups external to the schools or the school system (Cremin, 1961; Fullan, 1982; Nyberg and Egan, 1981~. Schools do change, but changes typically are imposed by external institutions or groups. If we consider significant, large-scale educational reform movements of the last quarter century such as mandated state Peter W. Airasian received an A.B. in chemistry in 1964 from Harvard College and has taught high-school chemistry and biology. He received an A.M. and Ph.D. in educational testing and evaluation from the University of Chicago. He is professor and chair of the Educational Foun- dations Division, Boston College. 252
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INSTII~(J77IONAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE 2~3 testing programs, school finance reform, teacher promotion ladders, and opening of schools to a variety of special-needs pupils it is clear that the reforms were initiated, championed, and eventually enacted by groups external to the schools, usually state-level elected officials, businessmen, and the courts. Even though the reforms influenced important aspects of teachers' and school administrators' activities, the reforms did not originate in the schools or educational community. In fact, many educators opposed these reforms when they were proposed initially. Historically, educators have been charged with implementing reform programs that they have had little influence in creating or enacting. The purpose of this discussion is to consider some of the external factors that influence the nature of social mandates for school change and the internal realities that place limits on the responses to these mandates that schools can muster. Because it focuses on barriers to change, this presentation may be perceived to be pessimistic. The intention is not pessimism, but realism. It is hoped that the discussion will counterbalance the promises of reformers who inevitably will be enthusiastically optimistic and exclaim broadly about the many beneficial outcomes of their reform proposals. The bulb of the paper is concerned with general barriers to large-scale school change; the discussion is not focused on a particular curriculum area or grade level. First, I describe the genesis of change movements and how they are shaped and influenced by the status of schools and schooling. The consequences of this status for large-scale, mandated school change are considered. Then I describe internal, school-based factors that inhibit change. The factors discussed represent a view of the American educational scene that points out the difficulty of effecting real educational change without a substantial commitment of resources and a substantial amount of patience. EXTERNAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE Change efforts arise when a crisis is perceived to exist in a social agency; reform is not spontaneous, but responds to a perceived need. For example, the reform of science curricula in the 1960s and the more recent push for higher academic standards in schools were the result of the unexpected launch of Sputnik and 10 years of publicity about the poor test performance of American schoolchildren, respectively. It is not clear how such crises emerge, why some capture the attention of the public while others do not, and why attention typically shifts to another crisis after a relatively short period. What is clear, however, is that a prerequisite for large-scale reform is a public sense of urgency about a social or educational problem.
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try Different Schools: Same Barriers GRACE S. TAYLOR Before coming to the Education Department at Brown University last year, I taught biology for 18 years at a comprehensive, urban high school of 2,600 students. This is a personal reflection about a profession I love. I borrow the documentation for my remarks from my experience and the experiences and insights of colleagues around the country. High schools throughout the United States are remarkably uniform in organization and In their approach to teaching biology. Here and there, some creative administrators and gifted teachers manage to offer a real science experience to their students, but for the most part, biology is rote learning and cookbook laboratory experiments. Thus, the window of opportunity to help students to make sense of the living world is closed. In this discussion, I am concerned with the question: What is it that inhibits change in the biology classroom? SCHOOL TRADITION It is because of tradition that change in high schools is slow and difficult. As Ted Sizer traveled around the country visiting schools, he particularly Grace S. Taylor is a clinical professor of biology (education) at Brown University. She received a B.A. in biology from Emmanuel College and an M.A. in biology from Wellesley College. In 1969-1987, she was a biology teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, in Massachusetts. She was chosen an outstanding biology teacher in 1984 by the National Association of Biology Teachers. 278
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DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS 279 focused on observing biology and history classrooms. He comments, "It got so when I visited biology classes, no matter what school it was, I could almost predict what would be taught depending on what month it was. It was so similar. They were following the textbook" (T. Sizer, Brown University, personal communication, October 3, 1988~. Structure of the Day In many schools, classes are run in the same time block year after year. In a seven-period day, teachers are scheduled for five classes, each of which meets at the same time each day, usually for 45 minutes. Only the honors and upper-level sciences may have a weekly double period for laboratory activities. For maximal efficiency, each classroom is scheduled for use each period, so the teacher who is "free" for a particular period must go elsewhere. The classroom is not his or her own, nor is it available for a student to finish a project. For the biology teacher, this necessitates setting up laboratory experiments before or after school. But in many city schools, teachers are not allowed to stay after school, for safety reasons. All these factors lessen the ability of the teacher to give quality instruction. Teacher Schedule In most school districts, the maximal number of students a teacher may have in a class is 30; therefore, he or she may be responsible for a total of 150 students. Some school systems realize that this is untenable, particularly in a laboratory setting, and have lowered the number to 25 or even 20 per class. Experts in education know that in order for students to learn most effectively they must be actively engaged. Authentic inquiry laboratory exercises where the students are involved in the process of experimentation and investigation often cannot be implemented within the rigid timeframes of the day and the teacher's schedule. Think of a single teacher conducting a pond study with 25 students at 25 microscopes (if she is lucky enough to have a microscope for each student). Of course, she wants them to make their own wet-mount slides from the water she and the class have brought in. She wants them to have the thrill of seeing live paramecia and vorticellae. But there will be constructive chaos in the classroom, and 3 minutes after the bell rings another teacher's class will be coming into the room. In thinking about this lesson, the teacher must make a choice between original discovery and static learning from prepared slides. The latter will fit into the confines of the day easier.
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280 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY Teacher Isolation The structure of most high schools means that teachers do their work behind closed doors. Exciting ideas and methods may be born, but generally stay behind those doors. The bell rings, the teacher does corridor duty, and then the next class comes in. There is rarely any attempt to organize the schedule so that teachers who teach the same subject can have common planning time. Even in schools where there are department examinations, teachers usually do not discuss together what is essential for their students to know. Instead, someone may make up the examination this term, or each teacher may send in questions on a specific area. The synergistic effect of many stimulated teacher minds working together is lost. No common goals of the biology curriculum are debated, no consensus reached. There are actually subtle institutional disincentives to collaboration. If one spends a period talking to a colleague about what is happening in class, one is taking time away from preparation, planning, and correcting for the next class, the next day. Yet it is necessary to have horizontal (departmental, 9-12) and vertical (districtwide, K-12) articulation in order for curriculum change to be discussed and eventually implemented. Teacher Instruction Most high-school students find biology "boring, because you have to memorize too much stuff." The curriculum is so overwhelming that it seems to dictate the pedagogy. Faced with feeling that he or she has to deliver too much content in as efficient a way as possible a 700-page text in 180 schooldays the teacher resorts to lecturing. Depth is subjugated for breadth, and coverage is confused with real study. Large conceptual themes, such as relationships among living things, tend to be ignored in the pursuit of specific structural terminology. And who are the students to whom this barrage of information is directed? College-bound students eager to learn biology in detail? It may be surprising to hear that there is a good chance that more.students who took freshman science will, 8 years later, have spent time behind bars than will have a bachelor's degree in either biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, or science education (Leyden, 1984~. Teachers must know who their audience is and teach appropriately. The tradition has been the teacher talking, not the student doing the work The kind of instruction that is needed is one that engages students' minds, builds their skills, and helps them with problem-solving strategies. This may require both restructuring the schoolday and viewing the teacher in a new way as a helper, not a dispenser.
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DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS Artificial Separation of the Sciences 281 There is too much specialization in the high-school science curriculum. The typical high-school sequence is earth or physical science, biology, chemistry, and then physics. It is as though each science teacher is preparing the students for a career in one of the sciences, instead of helping them to gain the knowledge and skills that they will need in order to understand science in our society. In biology, we teach the parts of the eye; in chemistry, the binding of molecules, such as the visual proteins; and in physics, the action of light waves. Because we teach every aspect separately, students keep it separate in their minds, and thus necessary connections are not made and real understanding is lost. An interdisciplinary curriculum would reduce the "I can't do science" refrain that is often heard in high schools. State Certification Certification requirements encourage future teachers to specialize in only one of the sciences and thus perpetuate the separation. Most biology majors do take college courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics and thus could, with the help of some innovative materials, teach in an interdisciplinary way. Some, of course, do just that. (Note that the English language-arts curriculum is composed of five elements: oral language, active listening, composition, grammar, and literature. Each has a separate body of skills and some would say a separate scope and sequence; yet English language-arts teachers are expected to, and do, teach all elements in each of their courses.) The sciences overlap as well. Can one really separate biology and chemistry? Should change involve science teachers as generalists? Interestingly enough, the one science certification that is interdisciplinary is general science, the course that is lowest in the hierarchical scale and is usually taken by the non-college-bound. Sex Roles Sixty-three percent of biology teachers are male (Champagne and Hornig, 1987, p. 215~. The blatant "I don't hire women science teachers," as one principal said to me in 1969, has been replaced with more subtle forms of discrimination. The only female teacher on the science staff in a high school outside Boston is "locked out of the stockroom." The first female science teacher hired in a high school in New Hampshire (in 1986) left after a year of isolation and was replaced by two men. There are few examples of women scientists in the texts or in the curriculum. If the ideas of women teachers are not held in high regard by their male colleagues, any dialogue involving change will be difficult.
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2~82 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY liacking Homogeneous grouping makes assumptions that are not true. It as- sumes that students cannot all learn the same curriculum. It assumes that in a heterogeneous classroom one has to teach to the middle, and the top group is bored and the bottom one is lost. It assumes that it makes it easier for the teacher to teach appropriately, whereas, in reality, he or she has three levels of biology in three textbooks, with three preparations every night and, possibly, three laboratories the next day. But as long as teachers believe, and thus the students do too, that only certain students can really learn and do biology, there will be no impetus for change. College-bound students know what they have to do, and they will do it, even if they are bored. The advanced-placement level of performance is very specific and is geared to the outcome desired. If students in a lower track are lucky, they may have a teacher who puts emphasis on relevance, process, and skills; but more often than not, the less-able teachers get the supposedly less-able students, and more trees are sacrificed to satisfy the dominant method worksheets! TEXTBOOKS For many teachers, the textbook Is the syllabus, with a resulting over- reliance on the textbook in most biology classrooms. Those of us who have read the literature over the years are aware that the vast majority of teachers of biology and other subjects feel that most of their teaching problems would be solved if only they could find the ~`right', textbook. With the exception of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) series (whose latest editions look more and more like the traditional ones, with fewer and fewer open-inquiry laboratory experiments), most of the texts are interchangeable. It is naive to assume that, should a new and innovative biology ap- proach be proposed, publishers would be interested. Witness the fact that a new social-studies curriculum, Man: A Course of Study (MACOS), was rejected by publisher after publisher in 1967. "They told the MACOS de- velopers that their stress on inductive methods, small-group instruction, the teacher as participant rather than authority, and multimedia design were formidable obstacles to adoption by teachers" (Lazerson et al., 1985, p. 36~. We cannot assume that things have changed in schools or in the publishing industry. The demands of state textbook-approval boards also limit teachers in selecting texts that they feel are appropriate for their students and consistent with their goals.
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DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS MONETARY CONSTRAINTS 283 Whenever change is suggested, the "what will it cost?" question is usually the first one asked, and the answer to it alone determines whether the change will be implemented. Resources A set of textbooks for a class of 25 students may cost over $400. There is the additional cost of laboratory books, supplies, and perhaps new equipment. The cost of implementing a biology course of study is considerable, and other departments in the school watch the proportional allocations of funds closely. Time The old adage, "time is money," is applicable in education as well. In order to look at the curriculum or pedagogy in new ways, it will be necessary to offer teacher training during the schoolday with class coverage by a substitute. This may need to be a continuing process. A colleague gave a 1-day in-service session to biology teachers in his city during which he introduced an original 2-week unit that he had written, exploring land use and decision-making. The teachers were interested in the new approach, but monetary constraints were such that there was no time available for them to practice together and work through the unit. Thus, no real implementation could be expected, nor was it achieved. 1b the school district, the cost is not merely that of the substitute, but also the per diem of the teacher who is away from the classroom. Average Teacher Load The average teacher load is carefully calculated by assistant superin- tendents in charge of finances to determine the cost-effectiveness of the teacher-to-student ratio. Teachers are expected to teach a full load, at least 100 students and 25 class periods per week. My class schedule was 22 periods a week, because my advanced-placement class met seven periods a week. The principal informed me that I would have to take study hall three times a week to bring me up to the required load. My arguments included the time needed to correct the many essays that are part of the course, the time needed to set up laboratory experiments, and the philosophy that advanced placement should be considered as a double course. They were in vain, and I was assigned to a study hall in the cafeteria three times a week. The irony is that my advanced-placement course and the results achieved in it were often used by the school in public-relations forums.
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284 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY Classes with fewer than 12 or 15 students are not considered to be cost-effective and are dropped from the schedule. A graduate student in English in our teacher-education program took a field biology course during her senior year in high school. She was very excited by her first taste of real science and said, "Although my project wasn't that original, I really learned a lot. But they didn't offer it again the next year, because not enough students signed up." (It will be interesting to see whether this course, which involved authentic inquiry, will be reinstated, now that its teacher is the superintendent of schools in this district.) Conferences In many school systems, not only are teachers not reimbursed for conferences attended, but they are not allowed to go during schooltime. This short-sightedness remains, even though many teachers affirm that conferences are exciting, stimulate creativity, and are more directly relevant to their teaching than further coursework. National Association of Biology Teachers meetings include workshops that are led by teachers and are therefore rich in practical ideas. Yet districts still require only coursework for incremental wage increases. Often, it is not even necessary that courses taken after a teacher has been granted tenure be related to the teacher's subject area. STANI)ARI)IZED TESTING Another factor that drives what is taught in biology classrooms around the country is state tests, College Board tests, and high-school departmental tests. The rationale for each may be different, but the end result is conformity and a lack of "open-endedness." In Massachusetts, science tests were given to students in fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades, and the scores were later published in the Boston Globe. The results caused some measure of consternation among the science staff in my former high school. They asked: What sorts of things were on the test? What did they have to teach so that the students would do better on the test? It is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog standardized tests determining the curriculum! Duckworth (1984, p. 19) stated, "What is dreadfully missing from a standardized test of biology, say, is any real conception of what the study of biology is: there is no way to tell whether a student has a sense of the questions that biologists ask, how to go about exploring them, how they relate to each other, how mistaken hypotheses can be productive."
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DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS UNIVERSITY PREPARATION 285 There is often more than a grain of truth in axioms, and "teachers teach as they were taught" is truer than most. In college classrooms throughout the country, Biology 101 students are trapped in a maze of facts and a haze of terms. They become passive learners, recipients of information, whose habits of thought and inquiry are underdeveloped. Thus, we should not be surprised when our biology student-teachers teach in the same way. Where have they been exposed to dynamic teaching? Where have they learned to pose authentic questions? This summer, as my candidates for the master's degree in teaching were getting ready to do their first teaching at Brown Summer High School, it was clear that they thought of their role as dispensers of information. Lecture, laboratory, and oral question and answer were the only teaching techniques with which they were familiar In the science classroom. PRESERVICE EDUCATION If the teaching in university biology classes has been less than inspired, it behooves teacher-education programs to develop teacher methods that are student-centered, are interactive, and serve as catalysts for student thinking and problem-solving. Unfortunately, teacher candidates are often taught by professors who are decades away from actual classroom teaching and who lack first-hand knowledge of the current school populace. There is a substantial incongruence between the way we are teaching science today, with our emphasis on reading a polysyllabic textbook and answering laboratory workbooks with packaged questions, and the learning styles of the students we teach. Is there too much emphasis on the well-written lesson plan and maintaining classroom control, and too little emphasis on developing methods to help students to use their minds well? Teachers often take for granted that their students are like them in the way their minds work, in the way they think and feel. "When teachers are working with students who are very much like themselves, there is relatively little to learn about teaching, at least insofar as technique is concerned, that is not supplied either by common sense or by the knowledge of the material to be taught. But when teachers and students are not alike in important ways . . . the knowledge called for under those circumstances is genuinely knowledge about teaching per se" (Jackson, 1986, p. 26~. Preservice work with a multicultural component is imperative. There is much that educational research can offer both the new and the experienced teacher, but the researcher and the teacher often do not speak the same language. As a colleague so aptly put it, '`There is a need for translators."
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286 lIIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY PROFESSIONAL IN-SERVICE EDUCATION lbo few school systems set aside release time for teacher collaboration, updating, training, or visiting other classrooms and schools. After teachers have supervised homeroom and taught approximately 125 students, it is too much to expect that an after-school meeting to discuss change in the biology curriculum will be productive, let along innovative. Even when release time is available, teachers' attitudes may be negative, as past experience has shown them that they will not be involved in setting the agenda. What will transpire will not be relevant or meet their needs. When teachers are fortunate enough to go to an all-day workshop, such as the ones held by the Institute of Secondary Education at Brown, they say, "I come back to the classroom feeling invigorated." The students can only benefit from such a recharged teacher, but new content must be linked with new teaching techniques. As a colleague said, "We must not only use that knowledge, but make it sing!" There is no doubt that the success of the BSCS curriculum was aided by workshops sponsored by the National Science Foundation. If such an initiative is begun again, those who plan the scheduling must take into consideration the varied roles of women, so that as many women teachers as possible will be able to participate. ADMINISTRATION Leadership in the central office and in the high school is often myopic. In a suburban high school, the science-department head is serious about deleting double laboratory periods when he says that "smart kids don't like to do labs, because they know what the results will be and, besides, it makes scheduling difficult." It makes one wonder whether he thought of changing the Apes of laboratory experiments the students did, rather than the structure of the laboratory itself. In my former school, science teachers are now required to babysit a homeroom, instead of having that time free to set up for laboratory class, as they did before. Teachers yearn for creative curriculum directors who have a knowledge of the discipline, its trends, and the teaching strategies needed to encourage the students to true learning. They want a leader with vision and the ability to excite the staff to work toward shared goals. Alas, most are pedantic and have little knowledge of good science education and so exert little or no direction. If any change is going to occur, it may have to be teacher-initiated or teacher-directed. But teachers are swamped with "administrivia" homeroom, late slips, absence lists, cut slips, inventory forms, student grading-policy agreements, substitute folders, study halls, etc. Organizing for a guest speaker or a field trip can become so difficult (with forms needed to be signed by three
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DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS 2237 different administrators) that many teachers just do not bother. Their energies have been directed toward the wrong areas. TEACHER ATTITUI)ES The teacher is the crucial link in any conversation about change, but change is both a challenge and a threat. Are a majority of biology teachers convinced that there is a need for change, or are they in an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality? Many feel overwhelmed by the explosion of biological knowledge in the last 2 decades, as they try to keep up with recent advances. They feel confused by the reports that suggest that they must teach more and the data that show that American students understand less science Education Week, September 28, 1988~. Does the aging teacher population have a desire for renewal? From where will the impetus for change come? In the 1960s, the reformers came from the country's prestigious universities, and they modeled the curriculum after the academic content of college courses, with little concern about the realities of classroom teaching (Lazerson et al., 1985~. If, indeed, change is in the air again, will it come from presentations at conferences like this, where there appear to be only two active teachers on the many panels? Teachers rightly rebel at the imposition of change, particularly from those they feel are not cognizant of the realities of the high-school classroom. "New math" was born, and it died. That could well happen to a new biology curriculum that is initiated "top-down." There are teachers who feel that problems in the biology classroom are not the result of the curriculum itself, but occur because students are unmotivated and "functionally illiterate." This seems to be a classic "blame the victim" ploy. Perhaps one could ask whether the teachers are "methodologically illiterate." Historically, when curriculum change has occurred, there has been insufficient teacher training. It would seem imperative that new curriculum be linked with new pedagogy; but while teachers are open to learning new facets of their subject, many consider professional development degrading: "I already know how to teach!" There are many reflective teachers who are uncertain about what is best for their students how the students learn, what can be done to motivate them, how to develop the skills they need. A 17-year biology veteran with whom I work stated, "I'd realized the past few years that the kids had changed, and what I used to do in class no longer worked, but I don't know what else to do." It is the openness to change that must be nurtured and developed.
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288 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY CONCLUSION Reflecting on all these barriers to change has been, by necessity, a negative exercise. Experiences and anecdotes from many schools validate the barriers to change. In thinking about changing the curriculum, we must ask not only what it Is that we want our students to know, but also how it should best be taught. Change necessitates restructuring the day and the teachers' schedules, modifying certification requirements, developing creative administrators, improving curriculum models, rethinking teacher education, and building In time so that teachers can have a true dialogue. If change in the curriculum and, by necessity, in the pedagogy is deemed necessary, then the crucial question to ask is: "What are the incentives for districts, administrators, and teachers to change the way the biology curriculum Is approached?" Get the incentives right, and the rest will fall into place! ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I owe special thanks to Ann Beachan, Jonathan Beater, Paula Evans, Amy Gerstein, Judy Johnson, Gordon Mendenhall, Theodore Sizer, Nancy Italian, Sharon Wolff, and Carolyn Wyatt. REFERENCES Champagne, A. B., and L. E. Hornig, Eds. 1987. The Science Curriculum. Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Duckworth, E. 1984. "... what teachers know: the best knowledge base ...." Harvard Educ. Rev. 54:15-20. Education Week. September 28, 1988. Jackson, P. ~ 1986. The Practice of Teaching. New York: Teachers College Press. Lazerson, M., J. B. McLaughlin, B. McPherson, and K. Bailey. 1985. An Education of Value: The Purposes and Practices of Schools. New York: Cambridge University Press. Leyden, M. B. 1984. You graduate more criminals than scientists. Sci. Teach. 51:27-30.
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