Re/Constructing Elementary Science seeks to improve the way science is taught in the elementary school. There are three main contradictions that make it difficult for teachers and students to engage in meaningful activities from which understandings result. The central issues in this book are framed in terms of three dichotomies that lead to tensions arising from the dialectic of opposing aspects of teaching and learning. First, there is a tension between learning as an individual process (cultural production) and as a cultural process (cultural reproduction). Second, there is a tension between science and techlogy (applied science). Finally, there exists a tension between children's interaction with nature and their language for describing and explaining nature. Exemplary case studies are featured that show the tremendous capabilities of elementary students to talk about techlogy and, in the process, to learn to talk science. These case studies are couched in an ongoing professional dialogue among the authors and the requirements to make such exemplary science happen in other classrooms.
The Authors: Wolff-Michael Roth is Lansdowne Professor of Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Victoria. His interests are broad and concern science and science learning in formal (elementary school to university) and informal settings (community activities, research laboratories). After leaving the high school level in 1992, he has continued to teach science at the elementary and middle school level. Kenneth Tobin is Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. His main research is concerned with the improvement of teaching and learning in urban schools. Committed to walking the walk, he coteaches with resident teachers in inner-city schools of Philadelphia. Steve Ritchie is Senior Lecturer in Science Education at the James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. His interests are in classroom research, where he works closely with teachers in order to assist them in the transformation of their practices.