Saturday, January 20, 2007

Why the NSTA matters.....

There has been considerable controversy about the US National Science Teachers Association refusing to distribute free copies of An Inconvenient Truth to its members. Ray Pierrehumbert at Real Climate is in fine fettle.** The casual observer might describe him as pissed off and thus slightly impatient from which Eli concludes that everyone has his limits and NSTA has found Ray's.

But beyond this is an important truth that Eli has located in (of all things) a Washington Times article

Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, said his group worked with science-textbook providers to provide codes throughout the text that students and teachers can plug into a Web site to access a list of NSTA-vetted Web sites on particular topics. The links are now in about 85 percent of science textbooks, he said.
NSTA provides vetting for textbook publishers. Whose science are they approving, the denialists, Western Coal or the NRC and IPCC? Who do they go to for advice? The question is open. The Rabett Society for Better Education, on the other hand, views this as an opportunity, a J-bar as it were, to try and lift the level of information available to teachers and students. For example, asking NSTA to link Real Climate and other appropriate materials (including David Archer's textbook) into the NSTA site and textbooks. Better teaching for better bunnies.

** Copyright HE Taylor


Anonymous said...

Textbooks are terrible. All three or four wings of the US political animal can probably agree on this much.
--Hank Roberts

Anonymous said...

And most definitely --- the labs are lacking.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, textbooks have become a cruch for bad teachers -- and when the cruch breaks, the result is entirely predictable.

And though texbooks may be important at the higher grades, they are not very important for the younger grades.

It is far more important to have a teacher who knows something science and has ways (activities, etc) of getting kids excited about science.

My brother teaches science to elementary school kids and uses a hands-on approach exclsuively (no text book). He has developed his own projects and materials over the years. Kids learn by doing, which is what science is all about.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, when I posted the article and started moderating the comments, what I hoped to hear about were details of NSTA's resources for teaching global warming, and their plans for expanding and improving them. Instead what I mostly got were a bunch of Gore haters coming out of the woodwork to throw mud at the movie and at Laurie David. (as well as, gratifyingly, a good number of RC regulars defending the basic correctness of the science in the movie). At the start I was willing to give NSTA the benefit of the doubt, but as more and more of the full story came out, it began to look like NSTA really did have something to hide. As I said, I still hope to be proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

This is a link to a story in today's (22 Jan) Houston Chronicle (the 4th largest city in the U.S. and home to the nation's largest petrochemical industry), the City's only major newspaper. Basically, it's the press' next step from the NY Times' story about dissent within the scientific community. Note that the reporter states that while a few degrees (no mention of units) of heating would be considered no big deal by scientists, 3 feet (1m) of sea level rise would inundate most of Galveston Island and would be considered catastrophic. I didn't think there was any scientific disagreement over either of these predictions, but note how the reporter makes it sound as if only the later is being touted by the senior, i.e. extremist, scientists like Hansen. BTW, great web site.