September 16, 2015

New Science

Professor emeritus’ debut book works to uncover flaws in the multiple dimensions of science teaching standards.

It may be time for educators to re-envision the way sciences are taught to k-12 students—according to a Professor Emeritus Charles R. “Kip” Ault Jr. of the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.

Ault’s recently released debut book, Challenging Science Standards: A Skeptical Critique of the Quest for Unity, explores the idea that curricula emphasizing what all sciences have in common ultimately obscure each field’s vital differences.

Through analyses of disciplinary knowledge, school curricula, and classroom learning, the book uncovers flaws in the way the Next Generation Science Standards present the scientific process as the same, regardless of scientific field. These standards were recently developed by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve.  

Ault advocates for a greater respect toward diversity among the sciences and questions of value in choosing what science to teach.

“The generic portrait found in k-12 science standards obscures this truth, fosters belief in stereotypical experimentation, and encourages the tyranny of a supposedly universal scientific way of thinking. From my perspective, such belief makes sharing how climate science, medical science, and geoscience study complex systems difficult for the public to accept as reliable science,” Ault notes.

While at Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School, Ault taught courses in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT.) program that emphasized how interpreting landscapes may integrate several fields of inquiry. Ault has also published articles in Curriculum Inquiry, Journal of Science Teacher Education, The Oregon Science Teacher and American Paleontologist. He earned his doctorate in Science & Environmental Education from Cornell University, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Dartmouth College.

Ault’s book, which includes a forward by John Rudolph, editor of Science Education, is currently available for purchase at the Lewis & Clark bookstore and various online booksellers.