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Re: Back to Basics vs. Hands-On Instruction

Posting line limitations have again proven their value in shielding
busy Chemed-L and Phys-L subscribers from the 489-line Hake (2004a)
and the 371 line Hake (2004b) posts:

Hake, R.R. 2004a. "Re: Back to Basics vs. Hands-On Instruction," online at
<>. Post of
19 Feb 2004 23:59:37-0800 to AERA-K, AP-Physics, Biopi-L, Chemed-L,
FYA-LIST, Math-Teach, Math-Learn, Phys-L, PhysLrnR, and POD.

Hake, R.R. 2004b. "Re: Back to Basics vs. Hands-On Instruction," online at
<>. Post of
20 Feb 2004 15:13:56-0800 to AERA-K, AP-Physics, Biopi-L, Chemed-L,
FYA-LIST, Math-Teach, Math-Learn, Phys-L, PhysLrnR, and POD.

These posts both attempt to induce people and organizations to mail
letters to the California Board of Education on or before 25
direct-instruction-inducing "Criteria For Evaluating K-8 Science
Instructional Materials In Preparation for the 2006 Adoption."

This mandate, if passed by the California State Board of Education at
its meeting on 10-11 March 2004 has the potential to severely
restrict hands- and minds-on K-8 (and hence K-16) science instruction
in California and the Nation.

For more information see the Washington Post report by Valerie Strauss at

If your interest is:

(a) Zero or less, then please hit DELETE.

(b) Only slightly greater than zero, then scan the abridged versions
in APPENDICES #1 and #2.

(c) Somewhat greater than zero, then access the entire posts by
clicking on the above URL's


Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
24245 Hatteras Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91367

APPENDIX #1 [Abridged version of Hake (2004a)

Paul Tanner (2004), in his Math-Learn post of 17 Feb 2004 on the
thread "Re: Back to Basics vs. Hands-On Instruction,". . . . .

"As I understand it, all that is being mandated is the giving of an
option to teachers. Why is that bad? Options stifle? The alternative
would be to allow the lack of an option for teachers. Why would that
be good? Is not the lack of an option a stifle?"

As has been repeatedly stated, lines 105-109 of the "Criteria"
mandate that to be considered suitable for adoption an instructional
materials submission for K-8 science instruction must provide:

"A table of evidence in the teacher edition, demonstrating that the
California Science Standards CAN be comprehensively taught from the
submitted materials with hands-on activities composing no more than
20 to 25 percent of science instructional time (as specified in the
California Science Framework). Additional hands-on activities may be
included, but must not be essential for complete coverage of the
California Science Standards for the intended grade level(s), must be
clearly marked as optional, and must meet all other evaluation

As Steinbok (2004) correctly points out:

Wurman and Metzenburg know very well how the publishing business
works. For an EL/HI textbook to be profitable, it is always composed
with minimal amounts of "optional" materials, and even these are
usually used to address
some state standards issues not addressed directly in the main text. The
only distinguishing features that are included are only there for
MARKETING, not pedagogical purposes. It is doubtful that Wurman and
Metzenberg would be so permissive concerning the "option" for extra
activities had they not been aware that no such optional activities
would be forthcoming from publishers with business interests in
California (that is all but a handful of small publishers with
innovative products--it is quite clear that the latter need not apply
for consideration for adoption).

Therefore passage of the "Criteria" by the State Board of Education
at its meeting on 10-11 March 2004 will almost certainly result in
prohibiting local schools and school districts from using state funds
to purchase K-8 science materials or texts that do not fit the
direct-instruction mold so favored by Metzenberg (1998), Wurman, the
CCC, and the Mathematically Correct crowd.

That group appears to inhabit a "private universe," seemingly
oblivious of the literature of cognitive science [see, e.g. Bransford
(2000)] and three decades of science-education research showing the
superiority of hands- and minds-on pedagogy to direct instruction in
conceptually difficult areas [see e.g., the references in Hake
(2004d,,e) to: Karplus (1974, 1977, 1981); Arons (1972, 1974);
Shymansky et. al. (1983, 1990); Halloun & Hestenes (1985a,b);
McDermott & Redish (1999); Hake (1998a,b; 2002a,b); Lopez & Schultz
(2001); FOSS (2001); Pelligrino et al.(2001); Crouch & Mazur (2001);
Fagen et al. (2002); Fuller (2002)]; Redish (2003); and Belcher
(2003). Note that none of this research concerns "discovery
learning," an evident bugaboo of Metzenberg, Wurman, and the CCC's
Tom Adams (2004).

According to the above research, the
Metzenberg/Wurman/CCC/Mathematically Correct anti-hands-on brand of
"direct instruction" is, for the most part, relatively ineffective in
promoting conceptual understanding or process skills in science. It
is also antithetical to the educational programs supported by:

a. most working scientists [including Nobelists such as Ken Wilson
(Wilson & Daviss 1994) and Leon Lederman (2001)], despite the
contrary implication in Metzenberg (1998),

b. most science educators,

c. the National Academy of Sciences [Alberts (2004)],

d. NRC's National Science Education Standards,

e. the American Association for the Advancement of Science,

f. the American Association of Physics Teachers,

g. the American Physical Society,

h. the American Chemical Society,

i. the National Association of Biology Teachers,

j. the National Science Foundation,

k. the National Science Teachers Association [see Wheeler (2004)],

l. the California Science Teachers Association [see Janulaw (2004)], and

m. the San Diego Science Alliance [Winter (2004)].

Contrary to Tanner's misunderstanding, options for teachers will be
ELIMINATED (NOT facilitated) by passage of the "Criteria."

Nevertheless, I agree that Tanner "speaks for most teachers when [he
says] that [he minds] being told how to teach via either mandated
pedagogy standards or via allowing the lack of pedagogical choice."

Teachers should indeed resent being told how to teach by bureaucratic
edicts such as the "Criteria." As stated in Hake (2004d), each
pedagogical method has it strengths and weaknesses, but in the hands
of a SKILLED TEACHER freed from governmental interference, each can
be made to complement the other methods so as to advance student
learning. A skilled teacher might LECTURE on material that can be
rote memorized, COACH skills such as typing or playing a musical
instrument, and use SOCRATIC DIALOGUE [or some other "interactive
engagement" (Hake 1998) method] to induce students to construct their
conceptual understanding of difficult counter-intuitive material such
as Newton's Laws.

For these reasons it is imperative to LEAVE TEACHING OPTIONS OPEN TO
THE TEACHERS IN THE TRENCHES and NOT dictate the methods they must
use, as does the "Criteria," even despite the devious denials of
Metzenberg (2004), Wurman (2004), and Rae Belisle [executive director
of the California Board of Education] who, according to Strauss
(2004): "said there was no intent to mandate a maximum amount of
hands-on learning." These spurious claims have been debunked by Woolf
(2004a), Dkystra (2004), and Hake (2004b].

If the "Criteria" are passed by the State Board of Education,
teachers who wish to use research-based hands- and heads-on curricula
will be prohibited from so doing unless they can foot the bill for
the texts and materials from their own meager salaries or somehow
obtain a waiver from the Board of Education.

It can only be hoped that the announced intentions of Governor
Schwarznegger and Secretary of Education Riordan [see Helfand (2004)]
TEACHERS, principals, and parents - in direct opposition to the
intentions of Metzenberg and the CCC - is not the usual empty
rhetoric of California politicians.

The CA Board of Education will meet to decide the fate of the dictatorial
'Criteria" at its 10-11 March 2004 meeting. To help block passage of
the "Criteria" and its disastrous consequences for K-8 (and therefore
K-16) science education in California and the Nation, subscribers are
urged to communicate with the board by sending LETTERS to:

State Board of Education
1430 N Street, Room 5111
Sacramento, CA 95814

According to the Board's Kathy Akana, there's no need to write to
individual Board members, since ALL letters sent to the above address
will be forwarded to ALL members of the Board with one-day service
every Thursday. This means that to influence the board before its
crucial meeting on 10-11 March 2004, letters should be in the mail so
as to reach Sacramento by Wednesday, March 3. Assuming an optimistic
one week delivery service, this means that THE DEADLINE FOR MAILING

Political activists tell me that letters are the most effective way
of communicating with busy bureaucrats, and that emails, FAX's, and
telephone calls are often ignored. If possible, it's a good idea to
post such letters on the web as did Janulaw (2004) and Wheeler
(2004), and advertise the URL to various education discussion groups
[see Hake (2003) for a list of such groups].

APPENDIX #2 [Abridged version of Hake (2004b)
. . . . Michael Horton, in his PhysShare post of 20 Feb 2004 . . . .
asks a good question:

"Who are the 'Mathematically Correct crowd'?"

To find out, go to the Mathematically Correct (MC) Website
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

To appreciate MC's antediluvian stance on science education visit
their "Science Corner"
<>. This site features
the House Science Committee testimony of California Curriculum
Commission (CCC) member Stan Metzenberg (1998), chief instigator of
the direct-instruction-enforcing "Criteria For Evaluating K-8 Science
Instructional Materials In Preparation for the 2006 Adoption" [online
as a 40kB pdf at <>], as discussed
in Hake (2004).

For an antidote to Mathematically Correct go to Mathematically Sane

For more information on the CA Math Wars see e.g., Jackson (1997)];
Sowder (1998); Becker and Jacobs (2000); Hake (2001a,b); and Wilson

For my own take on math education research see Hake (2003d). For that
of Mathematically Sane's Gary Martin, see

The Mathematically Correct crowd appears to have been victorious in
the Math Wars, returning math education in CA to the dark ages. Now,
spearheaded by Stan Metzenberg, they hope to do the same for CA
science education.

As indicated in Hake (2004), a crucial battle in the CA Science Wars
will occur at the CA Board of Education meeting 10-11 March 2004.
There the Board will meet to decide the fate of Metzenberg's
direct-instruction-enforcing "Criteria."

With apologies for the repetition, to help block passage of the
"Criteria" and its disastrous consequences for K-8 (and therefore
K-16) science education in California and the Nation, subscribers are
urged to communicate with the board by sending LETTERS to:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .