So, I noticed that the NJ Board of Ed is planning to add an “inquiry based” science class to the requirements for high school graduation, in addition to a year of bio and a year of chem, physics, or environmental science. This would be great, except, well, a science class is supposed to be “inquiry based” simpy by being a science class.
If you aren’t learning about and using the scientific method (or at least a close approximation of it) you aren’t learning science! A class without that is not a science class in any meaningful way. Adding an inquiry based science class further signlas to teachers that they can and should pull that out of their ordinary science classes. Why?
Sure, it’s a nice thought. They add the requirement to do this in case your other science teachers aren’t doing this. But like I said, if your other science teachers aren’t, their classes shouldn’t even be considered science!
And even beyond that, I get the distinct impression that an “inquiry based” science class would be meaningless. Since it sounds like it has to be a standalone course, it has no subject. So what exactly are you inquiring about? It isn’t biology or chemistry or physics or astronomy, so what exactly is it? By pulling it out of those classes, you lose any sort of focus for the class.
On top of that, it makes it harder to take all the science classes you want, because you effectively lose a year in which to take them. For instance, if you want to take both AP chem and AP physics, you have to either take summer courses or double sciences 2 years in a row. As of now, you can take biology as a freshman, chem as a sophomore, then AP chem and acc physics as a junior (or take a physics summer class) and then AP physics as a senior. With this, you lose either your junior or senior year’s main science slot. That’s not exactly fostering science, in my opinion.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and those involved in education seem to have a particular aptitude for laying concrete.