Science teaching should draw on mystery, wonderI want to...

Letters

March 14, 1998

Science teaching should draw on mystery, wonder

I want to commend Mike Bowler for raising an important issue in his March 4 Education Beat column ("Best and brightest fall behind").

For people who have been involved in teaching, especially at the college level, the low mathematical and scientific skill of incoming freshmen is anything but new.

While I agree in general with the column, one sentence caught my attention: "But creativity won't go far in physics, chemistry and computer labs."

As a matter of fact, the opposite is true.

Just as reading and writing is not literature, learning formulas by heart is not science. Only understanding the deep concepts behind science, using your imagination to visualize these concepts and finally being able to apply these concepts in a creative manner will make a good scientist.

This is not to say that acquiring skills is unimportant. However, if science education doesn't involve the mystery, wonder and creative power of scientific thought, it will be just another boring subject.

I think the core of the problem in science education in this country is that few teachers are able to teach in such an integrated manner, emphasizing skills, concepts, imagination and creativity.

Somehow, creativity and skills are seen as opposites -- science emphasizing dead knowledge, the arts emphasizing pure creativity.

In reality, good artists and scientists combine both creativity and skill.

Peter M. Hoffmann

Baltimore

Sprewell teaches a poor lesson

I am so outraged I can barely speak without spitting. As a teacher, I am expected not only to provide instruction in my curriculum area, but also to "parent" students who get no guidance at home.

The new push is to teach character education, which I totally support, but where is the backing from the community and families?

The Latrell Sprewell case is the latest to set me off. After the National Basketball Association ruled that this arrogant, overpaid athlete who physically attacked his coach was to be suspended, he had his sentence reduced by some charitable arbitrator.

What are we teaching our kids with this message?

Our young people already think it's fine to disrespect authority. But when sports heroes and public figures get away with criminal acts like this, they are convinced it's OK for them, too.

The NBA tried to do the right thing. Now, the other teams should be strong enough to blackball this person who does not deserve the privileges he was offered.

There are many other young men who could fill his spot -- and act like responsible citizens while doing it.

Susan Lester

Cambridge

Suing the makers of guns is nonsense

Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell wants to sue gun manufacturers -- not for making defective products, but for selling more weapons to inner-city residents than the mayor feels they should ("Philadelphia weighs suit against gun manufacturers," Feb. 17).

What an idea.

Fewer firearms retailers exist, per capita, in inner cities than in the suburbs. Where is the targeting?

He also fails to grasp that the illegal use of firearms caused the violence. Criminals -- not law-abiding citizens -- are illegally using them.

Philadelphians, apparently concerned that the police cannot protect them, are buying firearms for self-defense. Those people are not Mayor Rendell's cause for concern. Criminals are. Why not concentrate on them?

The $4 million the mayor is planning to spend on a futile lawsuit could be better spent educating youth.

The article could be seen as an advertisement: "Baltimore, join our lawsuit. Send lots of money."

I hope Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke will agree that this is not the way to solve the crime problem.

On the other hand, New York's "zero tolerance" program seems to work; crime is down 35 percent. Baltimore and Philadelphia can't say the same.

The mayor of Philadelphia is using the $4 million in taxpayer money to assist in his re-election bid this fall. It did buy him space in The Sun.

Sanford Abrams

Baltimore

The writer is vice president of Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association Inc.

Pub Date: 3/14/98

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