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Which Homeschool Science Curriculum Should You Use?

Are you struggling to figure out which science curriculum to use for your homeschooled child? Everyday Einstein has a radical answer.

By
Lee Falin, PhD
April 18, 2014
Episode #097

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One of the most common questions I’m asked by other homeschooling parents is which science curriculum our family uses. Today I’ll share my reasons behind the shocking answer to that question: we don’t use a science curriculum!

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Science Education’s Fatal Flaw

My philosophy on teaching science to my own children is based on my experiences teaching science in lots of different capacities. I’ve taught private school classes for elementary, middle, and high school students; I’ve taught freshman university courses; and I've taught as a guest teacher in public elementary schools. I’ve also poured over dozens of science curricula designed for homeschoolers. I’ve even read the current research and attended seminars on science education.

Throughout all of those years of learning about and teaching science, I’ve noticed one fatal flaw in every science curriculum I’ve reviewed: They all approach the subject with the assumption that every student is destined to become a scientist. 

So much of science education, even for small children, is based around the idea that the goal of science education is to train up an army of little scientists, destined to tackle the mysteries of life, clipboard in hand, lab reports at the ready. While this approach does appeal to some learners, it's just not for everyone.

One thing that I’ve noticed about people who dislike science is that they don’t actually dislike science. They dislike science experiments and lab work, and they equate those things with science. In the early days of education, science education for younger kids involved a blend of going outside to look at nature, and learning some general principles of science from a book. Lab work wasn’t started until much later, often in the university. 

But in modern times, any science curriculum for first graders is considered substandard if it doesn’t include a lab report for them to fill out. I’ve seen firsthand that this approach does much more harm than good. We end up with students who know how to fill out a data sheet, but that have lost all interest in scientific inquiry.

This is one of the biggest mysteries to me about science education. Nobody believes that the only way to appreciate Shakespeare is to write really long plays. Equally ludicrous is the idea that the only way to really understand the lessons of the Battle of Hastings is to grab a sword and challenge an army of Frenchmen to a battle to the death.

But for some reason, many people think that the only way people can ever hope to learn science is to painstakingly recreate every important science experiment that's taken place over the past 400 years.

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