On Teaching Science
by Rebekah Netanyah
Many people new to homeschooling seek to replicate public school methods and structure in their own homeschools. I too did this in the beginning, and unfortunately it is quite common. Lots of new homeschooling parents do this simply because it is what they know, as they were likely public school students themselves. It is not, however the only method and neither is it the best or most effective. When setting up your own homeschool keep in mind that public school methods were created for educating the masses. It is an assemblyline approach and will not adequately meet the needs of the students. Subjects are frequently watereddown so that those with little knowledge in certain subjects can teach them. So essentially what you get is a subpar Science education.
If you haven't done so, I suggest reading the FAQ's concerning Science and basic how's and why's of the recommended curriculum and homeschooling regimen on this site. Science for the homeschooling student is done differently and does not follow the typical public school standard approach. In traditional schooling, Science is taught as a separate subject to students as young as 6 or 7 years of age and is covered every year. Science  real science requires a solid mathematics foundation: Algebra for Chemistry and Biology, Calculus for Physics. Young children simply do not have the mathematical background for learning these subjects. So if you are serious about Science, it starts with knowing Mathematics. When children are young, in elementary school and middle school for instance, they should be encouraged to study Science according to their interests and do their own experiments and projects. Reading autobiographies and biographies serve as great introductions for learning actual Science. Watching educational science films and documentaries are also essential activities for students at all grade levels. Fieldwork and taking field trips is another option for learning handson Science.
By high school, they will be getting into Science taught as individual, separate subjects. At this level, it is rigorous and challenging, but the students are highly interested, and do actually understand it better because they have the Mathematical background for it. Without this foundation, they are at a great disadvantage because Biology and Chemistry as it is understood and learned by experts in these fields are not really Biology or Chemistry without knowing the Algebraic concepts. It is the same for Physics without Calculus. In traditional schools, these subjects are dumbed down so that it is easier for the kids to understand and do. The problem with doing that is they are not really learning these subjects at all. It's pretend science. Mathematical concepts explain Science.
Let me explain this a bit further. Take Sir Isaac Newton, for example. He is not just some guy who had an apple fall on his head. Again, this is what is commonly taught in traditional schools and it means very little, but yet it is what is learned and remembered about him. You ask any publicschool child who was Sir Isaac Newton and they will say this apple stuff. The reality is starkly different. Sir Isaac Newton developed a new kind of mathematics: Calculus. What for? To explain Physics concepts about gravitation and motion. He used Geometry and Algebra to come up with Calculus. He was a physicist, an astronomer and a mathematician. If Newton, thought to be a certified genius couldn't explain Physics without Calculus, how can anyone else do it?
We have seen something similar happen with the beloved George Washington Carver, commonly taught as the guy who simply invented peanut butter. He was actually an agricultural chemist, botanist and an inventor of products from peanuts, soy beans and sweet potatoes. He obtained his graduate degree in Botany from Iowa State University (the first Black student there) and then was the first Black faculty member of the college before becoming the first dean of Tuskegee Institute. When me and my son read the entire biography of George Washington Carver together in our homeschool, he was amazed and laughed because of what he had been taught about the man in public school.
Many people new to homeschooling seek to replicate public school methods and structure in their own homeschools. I too did this in the beginning, and unfortunately it is quite common. Lots of new homeschooling parents do this simply because it is what they know, as they were likely public school students themselves. It is not, however the only method and neither is it the best or most effective. When setting up your own homeschool keep in mind that public school methods were created for educating the masses. It is an assemblyline approach and will not adequately meet the needs of the students. Subjects are frequently watereddown so that those with little knowledge in certain subjects can teach them. So essentially what you get is a subpar Science education.
If you haven't done so, I suggest reading the FAQ's concerning Science and basic how's and why's of the recommended curriculum and homeschooling regimen on this site. Science for the homeschooling student is done differently and does not follow the typical public school standard approach. In traditional schooling, Science is taught as a separate subject to students as young as 6 or 7 years of age and is covered every year. Science  real science requires a solid mathematics foundation: Algebra for Chemistry and Biology, Calculus for Physics. Young children simply do not have the mathematical background for learning these subjects. So if you are serious about Science, it starts with knowing Mathematics. When children are young, in elementary school and middle school for instance, they should be encouraged to study Science according to their interests and do their own experiments and projects. Reading autobiographies and biographies serve as great introductions for learning actual Science. Watching educational science films and documentaries are also essential activities for students at all grade levels. Fieldwork and taking field trips is another option for learning handson Science.
By high school, they will be getting into Science taught as individual, separate subjects. At this level, it is rigorous and challenging, but the students are highly interested, and do actually understand it better because they have the Mathematical background for it. Without this foundation, they are at a great disadvantage because Biology and Chemistry as it is understood and learned by experts in these fields are not really Biology or Chemistry without knowing the Algebraic concepts. It is the same for Physics without Calculus. In traditional schools, these subjects are dumbed down so that it is easier for the kids to understand and do. The problem with doing that is they are not really learning these subjects at all. It's pretend science. Mathematical concepts explain Science.
Let me explain this a bit further. Take Sir Isaac Newton, for example. He is not just some guy who had an apple fall on his head. Again, this is what is commonly taught in traditional schools and it means very little, but yet it is what is learned and remembered about him. You ask any publicschool child who was Sir Isaac Newton and they will say this apple stuff. The reality is starkly different. Sir Isaac Newton developed a new kind of mathematics: Calculus. What for? To explain Physics concepts about gravitation and motion. He used Geometry and Algebra to come up with Calculus. He was a physicist, an astronomer and a mathematician. If Newton, thought to be a certified genius couldn't explain Physics without Calculus, how can anyone else do it?
We have seen something similar happen with the beloved George Washington Carver, commonly taught as the guy who simply invented peanut butter. He was actually an agricultural chemist, botanist and an inventor of products from peanuts, soy beans and sweet potatoes. He obtained his graduate degree in Botany from Iowa State University (the first Black student there) and then was the first Black faculty member of the college before becoming the first dean of Tuskegee Institute. When me and my son read the entire biography of George Washington Carver together in our homeschool, he was amazed and laughed because of what he had been taught about the man in public school.
