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Updating the Software and Hardware in Educational Practice

A Way Forward for Science and Mathematics Education

THEORIES FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM SHOULD come in two parts: first, a call for a personal philosophical shift for teachers to use best practice, and second, institutional change. Effective institutional change facilitates an environment that helps to develop and sustain practitioners of the new philosophy. In 2012, Skeptic published my article Three Cheers for Teachers: Educational Reform Should Come from Within the Classroom and Science Can Inform those Reforms. That essay compiled new research findings from neuroscience and education with lessons from the history and philosophy of science to make a call for a theoretical shift among teachers-as-practitioners. Since that time, the ideas presented in that original essay have been implemented through a series of summer institute programs for math and science teachers that I have facilitated. They have also been absorbed into a graduate degree program for secondary biology teachers. These programs help create the personal theoretical shift of secondary classroom teachers. The evidence produced through these programs warrants a further and more comprehensive experiment at a larger institutional level.

The philosophy of educational reform proposed here is analogous to software and hardware. The “software” update involves a concept of teaching and best practice that can be absorbed by teachers and brought into classrooms immediately. The hardware updates involve structural changes that allow teachers to run their new educational software more smoothly. An example of a similar hardware/software upgrade would be the introduction of the software of the scientific method itself as it emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries. Galileo’s software proved incompatible with the educational hardware of Western Europe. Then, Francis Bacon proposed an educational hardware update in 1620 when he published Novum Organum, or the New Method, in which he argued that the educational system should embrace the creation of new knowledge over the study of old knowledge.

Educational structures changed slowly, so it took over a century and a half before German universities finally embraced these educational changes and developed the modern research-based Ph.D. French medical schools made a similar shift about the same time, and with these actions the software of the scientific revolution and the hardware of the formal educational systems became compatible.

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About Skeptic

EVIL, THEISM, and ATHEISM Answering the Hard Question “You’re an Atheist?! How Do You Find Meaning and Morality in Life if There is No God?”; God, Heaven, and Evil: A Renewed Defense of Atheism; The Devil’s Mark: The Evaluation of Evil, the Measurement of Morality, and the Statistical Significance of Sin; Whence Cometh Evil? The Concept and Mechanics of Natural Evil; Virtuous Reality: Why Right and Wrong Seem Real: a Critique of Moral Realism; Tearing Down Mr. Hume’s Wall: A Response to Moral Realism Skeptics; Brazilian Cancer Quackery; The “Sonic Attack” on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: Why the State Department’s Claims Don’t Add Up; Understanding Human Skeletal Variation; Updating the Software and Hardware in Educational Practice: A Way Forward for Science and Mathematics Education; Why Freud Matters: Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and the Skeptical Humanist Tradition; Hope and Hype for Alzheimer’s; I, Too, Am Thinking About Me, Too; Junior Skeptic: The Incredible Claims of Pet Psychics…