• Science Department Philosophy

    "Thoughts without concepts are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind."
    - Immanuel Kant (1781)

    "Logic...remains barren unless it is fertilized by intuition."
    - Henri Poincare (1908)

    Since the earliest human beings gazed at the stars and pondered their own existence, science has evolved to help humanity achieve great heights in learning and living. From the pyramids in Egypt to the ancient cities of the Maya, society has agreed that the education of its children must include an understanding and appreciation of how the world around them operates. This marriage between science and society has led to the development of ideas and technology that has enabled us, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, to become healthier, and more interdependent on an ever-shrinking planet than at any other time in recorded history.

    The science department accepts this challenge. We believe that mastery of knowledge is not simply absorbed. In the words of Plutarch, "the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted!" We believe that knowledge is actively constructed in students who brings a wealth of prior knowledge and experience to a science classroom. This "constructivist" view of learning recognizes the active role that problem-solving plays in inquiry. It requires that teachers accept students' unique learning styles as well as their right to learn in an environment appropriate for their level of knowledge and skill.

    In a world dominated by computers and information systems, we reaffirm the traditional belief that students learn through the use of rational thinking, critical analysis, and hands-on laboratory experience. Organizational thinking cannot be replaced by programmed lessons and passive access to an almost infinite supply of information.

    In this spirit, the Science Department has established the following principles as a guide toward achieving these daily and long term goals. We are professionals dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, the achievement of educational techniques, of alternative assessments, and the development of our children into adults who will understand and appreciate both the world and the environment in which they live.

    Specific Philosophical Goals

    I. Primary Process Goals of Science Teaching
    1. To develop critical thinking skills to enhance a student's ability to perform conceptual and abstract reasoning using the "scientific method" and the rules of logic (deductive or inductive).
    2. To enhance problem-solving skills by helping students to become organized, active and creative solvers.
    3. To develop the use of laboratory and safety skills.
    4. To develop an understanding of data collection and analysis using mathematical techniques.
    5. To develop an understanding of the use of modeling in science (both mathematical and physical).
    6. To foster an environment that leads to the use of independent inquiry and research.
    7. To enhance the student's reservoir of basic scientific knowledge.
    8. To foster an environment of active engagement that encourages the asking and answering of questions.
    9. To develop the skills to use modern computer technology as applied to information gathering, modeling, data analysis, and problem solving.

    II. Ancillary Process Goals of Science Teaching
    1. To develop team-building and cooperative learning skills.
    2. To enhance skills for independent research.
    3. To enhance the scientific literacy of the student through exposure to different concepts.
    4. To recognize and appreciate historical contributions to science and technology.
    5. To recognize and enhance interdisciplinary connections in other subject domains.
    6. To develop protocols for organizational learning (study skills, note-taking, summarization).
    7. To transfer knowledge to daily life experiences.
    8. To prepare students for college level work and responsibilities.
    9. To expose students to possible future career paths in science and related fields.
    10. To develop an informed citizenry to make future decisions related to science.

    III. Broader Philosophical Goals of the Science Department
    1. To teach students to develop a love of learning and seeking knowledge.
    2. To teach respect for the environment and the world around us.
    3. To teach respect for individuals who learn at different rates and with different styles.
    4. To teach students that we can all learn from one another.
    5. To teach students to recognize that most situations in life can be examined in a rational and organized way.
    6. To teach students to appreciate the aspects of free inquiry in a free society.
    7. To teach students to learn patience and time management.

    "The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking."

    - Albert Einstein (1936)