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Walter Bradley on Just “Memorizing Stuff” in Biology Education

Sarah Chaffee

biology

As we’ve already noted, Texas recently concluded its science standards streamlining process — and adopted language that supports critical thinking about evolution.

At the November Board meeting, Center for Science & Culture Fellow Walter Bradley testified on the importance of inquiry-based science education. Dr. Bradley’s testimony is especially powerful because he discusses his own background and how just “memorizing stuff” – the opposite of critical inquiry — initially turned him off from biology.

I thought I would share this with you. He starts speaking at -3:07:05. You can click on the image at the top to go there and see and hear all of his comments. Excerpt:

In reviewing the proposed streamlining, one of the concerns that I had in looking at the things that were being dropped out were things that primarily had to do with critical thinking, scientific reasoning and problem solving. I found that problematic for a very personal reason.

When I was in tenth grade I took biology. Biology in those days was taught as sort of a, memorize a zillion details. I memorized all the details and I made a 99 percentile on my biology achievement test and I got invited to go to three different colleges for a summer program.

And I thought, all I could imagine was just memorizing stuff all summer. I ended up not going, I just took a construction job and worked.

The point I’m trying to make here is when you teach science without providing, I think, opportunity for people to see the magic of the scientific method, the discovery opportunities, the conundrums that we have, and to see this is something that we have that’s a very active…it’s not a set of facts to be memorized. It really is a process to be understood.

Exactly. Bradley’s testimony on the biology TEKS was important, but not limited in its interest to the lead up to the Education Board’s vote. Take a few minutes to learn about his decades of experience in science and to hear his exposé on the origin of life!