Monday, February 20, 2006


The Power of Narrative

There is a good story behind science, but no one is telling it in American classrooms. According to Ursula Goodenough, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, science continues to be taught from K-12 to the college and university levels, in fragmented, incoherent bits and pieces rather than a coherent narrative, a history of nature.

"What's totally lacking in the teaching of science is what I call a history of nature, what happened from the Big Bang on," said Goodenough. "In the past few decades, the history of nature has really come together as an integrative story, with theories of the Big Bang, plate tectonics and advances in understanding biological evolution all tying the story together.

Studies have shown that humans learn best when information is packaged in the form of a story. But the historical sciences –cosmology, evolutionary biology and earth science – exist independently in their own domains. There is no linkage."

Goodenough presented her Plenary Lecture, "The History of Nature: Why Don't We Teach It?" at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science being held this week in St. Louis.

Read more here.


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