I have a Master of Science, complete with a 96-page thesis that tells you anything you might want to know about the germination and emergence of the common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale. I was an ecologist and biologist first, an environmental scientist later, and finally, I am now a high school teacher. I strongly suspect that teaching is my calling, and as our educational paradigm shifts, I am learning every day right along side my students. I very much enjoy this.

Imagine my dismay when 100% of most groups of students chose “A” on the below question:

The Nature of Science Multiple Choice Question, August 2015
The Nature of Science Multiple Choice Question, August 2015

I like the idea of teaching the students and NOT teaching the content, but surely even self-proclaimed non-scientists must realize that hypotheses are refuted ALL THE TIME. This research gets published anyway, because finding out we were wrong about a natural phenomenon is just as important as finding out we were right.

I don’t quite agree with the idea that, “There is no such thing as bad data” (and that’s another story), but I certainly wouldn’t have changed my hypothesis in my thesis had I been wrong. I would have submitted it for binding and applied to graduate anyway, complete with a refuted hypothesis. That’s the nature of science. My thesis wasn’t even written in the “if…then…because…” format, and I still graduated. Imagine!

I know what we do to science in classrooms almost everywhere, and I know that we can do better, because I used to be a scientist before I grew up. The collective scientific (and mostly ecological) problems of the world will not be solved if we do not move on to a new idea when we find our old idea to be a dead end. Choosing “A” is the equivalent of burying our heads in the sand.