Chapter 12: HABITS OF MIND [12-13] & [12-14]







Attitudes Toward Learning Science, Mathematics, and Technology

Students in elementary school have a spontaneous interest in nature and numbers. Nevertheless, many students emerge from school fearing mathematics and disdaining science as too dull and too hard to learn. They see science only as an academic activity, not as a way of understanding the world in which they live. The consequences of this aversion are severe, for it means that the lives of too many students are being limited and the nation's overall pool of talent from which scientists, mathematicians, and engineers are drawn is smaller than it should be.

The schools may not be able to turn this situation around by themselves, but they are essential to any realistic hope of doing so. It is within teachers' power to foster positive attitudes among their students. If they choose significant, accessible, and exciting topics in science and mathematics, if they feature teamwork as well as competition among students, if they focus on exploring and understanding more than the rote memorization of terms, and if they make sure all their students know they are expected to explore and learn and have their achievements acknowledged, then nearly all of those students will indeed learn. And in learning successfully, students will learn the most important lesson of all—namely, that they are able to do so.