Math Science Term Paper

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How have the reform movements impacted teaching math and science? Include the differences between traditional teaching and current practices in mathematics and science.

Ever since Horace Mann began his innovative educational reforms in the public schools programs of the 19th century, American education has tended to stress practical skills in its curricular approach and local control of schools. These two impulses have often existed in tension, as Americans have strived to remain competitive in math and science education and wish to see gains in the performance on standardized tests by its nation's youth. However, there is often great resistance to changes in the ways that such subjects are taught and standards are set by government agencies.

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Math and science education is seen as vital for the nation, economically, and also in terms of its national security. The resolve to put a man on the moon was accompanied by a new emphasis in technical education. The National Science Foundation (NSF) was expanded in 1957 to enable it to change primary and secondary school education math and the sciences, to deemphasize rote learning in favor of "hands-on learning" (Adams, 1999). The results of this drive can still be seen today in the presence of science-driven curriculums in New York City magnet schools, and some limited, but extraordinary science curriculums throughout the nation. However, even then, there was resistance to change, as in the case of New Math. The focus of the New Math was set theory, where students were encouraged to think of numbers in a new, hopefully more concrete way. Parents were strongly opposed to this innovation, and complained that they could no longer help children with their schoolwork (Adams, 1999). Thus the so-called New Math approach was gradually phased out of most curriculums.

Term Paper on Math Science Assignment

During the 1980s, Americans once again became obsessed with the ability of young Americans to compete in science and math with other nations such as Japan. Data from a 1986 science assessment, conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), found that "when students were asked for their views of the kinds of science instruction they experienced, the most frequently cited activity was reading the textbook. When asked about the number of experiments conducted in the previous month, 40% of the 9-year-olds, 44% of the 13-year-olds, and 49% of the 17-year-olds answered "0." Despite the push for hands-on activities, lecture and textbook use predominate[d]" (Blosser, 1989). Experimentation and use of scientific equipment was "relatively rare" although some of the choices for instruction may have been due to the practical obstacles faced by many teachers, since less "than half of the teachers surveyed had access to even a general purpose laboratory" (Blosser, 1989).

This trend towards continuity of curricular approaches in most schools and declining standards or maintaining mediocre standards has continued, and brought forth new resolutions for change. The decline in the numbers of U.S.-trained scientists and engineers, compared with the increasing numbers of those trained in Asian countries has concerned even national political leaders. President Bush called for the training of 70,000 high-school teachers to lead Advanced Placement courses in math and science, so students "have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs" (Garelick 2006:4). Financial success and technical prowess, and national security continue to be intertwined in political rhetoric and the American consciousness.

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