Beglery, Sharon. "Don't Believe What you Read," Newsweek, 6 August 1990, p. 71.

 

Beglery, Sharon. "Don't Believe What you Read," Newsweek, 6 August 1990, p. 71.

It appears that publishers produce texts for courses for the primary grades which contain errors.
These errors are explained in this way: "The errors propagate like maggots, since virtually every
‘new' textbook is closely modeled on profitable predecessors. Often written not by scientists but
by science educators, who may shine in pedagogy but not know their mass from their weight, the
tomes are seldom given to experts for line-by-line critiques. Most teachers, barely science-literate
themselves, don't even notice the inaccuracies..."

Some of the inaccuracies are due to the inadequacy of the teachers. What else is wrong? Concern
for pedagogy: one cannot include everything, all the complex details, and still keep the student
interested. It is suggested that a full description would be boring to the students. However, there
is an appreciation here that it may be experimentation, rather than using texts, that would produce
the best results. Maybe texts are not the answer.

Some of the errors in science texts are provided: 1) An astronaut in space is not affected by
gravity. 2) A tightrope walker holds a balancing pole because it lowers her center of gravity. 3)
Mosquitoes sting with their rear ends. These glitches are reported to both exemplify the crisis in
science education and exacerbate it. "‘If the books present the material incorrectly, I think it
unlikely that the classroom teaching is much better,' says physicist Mario Iona, a professor
emeritus at the University of Denver."