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PART I Opening Address and Responses
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1 Opening Address EVELYN E. HANDLER At its first meeting, in April 1988, the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on High-School Biology Education put forth a seem- ingly straight-forward question: How do we modernize curriculum to keep up with the explosion of knowledge in the field of biology? Not surpr~s- ingly, behind that simple question lies great complexity. The distinguished academic biologists on our committee and the scientist-advisers to our sponsor, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, as well as the teachers and administrators who serve on our committee, recognize what a tangled subset of issues the question unleashes. We cannot solve the problems of content without addressing the entire context or what I choose to call the ecology of education. Some of the subset issues that need to be addressed include teacher preparation, instructional objectives and strategies, texts and other instruc- tional materials, institutional context, social context, and developmental factors. And we need to consider the interconnectedness of biology with the other sciences physics and chemistry, but also earth science and the social sciences. If we consider biology a component of scientific literacy, which In turn Is an ingredient of cultural literacy, how do we make our young people literate? Evelyn E. Handler is the president of Brandeis University. She holds a Ph.D. in biology from New York University and is a former dean of the Division of Sciences and Mathematics, Hunter College, Columbia University. She is also a former president of the University of New Hamp- shire. 3
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4 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY We know we are failing to do so. I could recite a litany of reports and studies that document the dimensions of our failure, but you know them as well as I do. So let me quote from the succinct summary of Armstrong and co-workers (Education Commission of the States, 1988~: Assessments have shown that the achievement of American students in science has, in general, declined since 1972 and remains poor in comparison to student achievement in other developed countries. Research conducted in the 1970s and 1980s has demonstrated that science instruction has had low priorly. It has been, at best, textbook-dr~ven and focused on content. Too often, teachers of science are inadequately trained, and there are shortages of teachers in fields such as physics and chemistry. Enrollment in high school science coumes has fallen. Moreover, science textbooks have been heavily criticized as covering too many topics far too superficially. There is, as yet, no consensus on why science should be taught, what should be taught, who should study science and how science education can be changed. Our youngsters are deficient in their understanding of biology, both as a coherent discipline and as a body of knowledge. Most of them, throughout their lives, will have little ability to relate what they may learn about biology to the world in which they live. But this is not a failure of our children. It is a failure of public policy to acknowledge the living realities of biology . . . the dynamic processes of nature that course through us and around us as creatures of the planet Earth. If we are going to incorporate biology into the mainstream of cultural literacy, we must think about how biology and technology interact to affect our lives and even our survival as a species. This presents some fundamental problems. How do we deal with the implications of an exploding body of scientific knowledge, such as genetic engineering and the chemistry of the brain? How can we communicate the implications of rapid developments to large numbers of youngsters? Since the time available for instruction cannot expand to accommodate the growth of knowledge, adjustments must be made. What to drop and what to keep? Should we try to be all-inclusive and contend with textbooks of 1,000 pages weighing 20 pounds, and leave it to teachers and administrators to set priorities? And if so, will the teaching of biologr then be rational and relevant? Is it now rational and relevant? There is the problem of coping with our changing planet- global warming, drought, famine, pollution of the earth and seas. We know the epidemiology and complications of the spread of the AIDS virus. How do we incorporate these into our learning objectives, our evaluation procedures, our teacher training, and our texts? More important, should these matters be made a part of the curriculum content, or should we retain the traditional disciplinary perspective of biology? These are questions of content that are bound up with context. I believe that in order to determine content, we must first articulate the
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OPENING ADDRESS 5 objectives of a high-school biology education. Only when we know our objectives can we develop a strategy for implementing a curriculum. We shall begin our panel deliberations, then, by addressing the topic of objectives and how they are to be reflected in our evaluation procedures. Let me start by posing some larger questions, in the hope of stimulating and focusing our thinking. So let us begin! What do we want to impart to all students about factual information, perspectives on the living world, reasoning skills, and science as a process? How effectively can we measure the attainment of these objectives? Do standardized tests dictate curriculum content? Are there alternative and more sensitive measurements of achievement? ~ what extent do texts and other instructional materials drive the curriculum? How does the teacher's own education shape his or her teaching style and objectives? A question that has always interested us as teachers: what is the effect of the student's prior education on what he or she learns in the biology course? How much biology is taught in other courses, such as health education or earth science, and how much is learned or mislearned from television? How much biology should be a part of general science? If biology is presented as a discipline, where and how will the student learn the physics and chemistry that underlie biological phenomena? 1b what extent should biology focus on social impacts and technological applications? In a world experiencing snowballing environmental crises, what priority should be given to the concept of the biosphere as a life- support system for human survival? Should the teaching of biology be insulated from religious, political, or social trends and values? Of what value, if any, are out-of-classroom instruction and experiences? Museums, zoos, botanical gardens, television documentaries, and other formats present innovative opportunities for instruction. Do we use these resources effectively? When we plan and evaluate the classroom experience, should we factor in children's exposure to informal education? Or, since science illiteracy is rampant, should we conclude that informal education is ineffective and therefore irrelevant, and ignore it? What does cognitive psychology have to tell us about defining our objectives, and about strategies to achieve our objectives? By ignoring the limitations of cognitive development on learning capacity, do we doom ourselves to frustration, if not defeat? Shayer and Adey (1981) in England concluded from their extensive tests and studies that "there is a massive mismatch in secondary schools
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6 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY between the expectations institutionalized in courses, textbooks and exam- inations and the ability of children to assimilate the experiences they are given." This issue will be addressed in one or more of our panels. How rhea it this nrnhlPm in Or c.l~r~m~ and how can we go under. wIlLIwA&~_~ ~ .,. ~v^_~^ a, ~_, _,_ __ around, or through learning obstacles? And last, should the first biology course serve as a recruiting ground for future scientists? Are we adequately serving the needs of students who show a natural affinity for science? Are we ensuring that a new stream of recruits move into teaching and research careers? What can special science schools tell us about educating the talented student? While our inquiry is wide-ranging, it cannot address all the contextual problems in any detail. We have not scheduled sessions to deal with the special problems of minority-group students from underprivileged back- grounds or the differences in the educational needs of college-bound and non-college-bound students. We also are not explicitly addressing the allo- cation of time between biology and the other sciences or among subtopics within biology, such as ecology; metabolism; cell, tissue, and organ sys- tems; and plants, animals, or systematics. However, these problems are of concern to the committee, and we hope to hear more about them in the broader context in which biology is taught. I would like to draw a brief picture of the historical background against which we are undertaking our task. The biology curriculum, as we know it, first emerged at the end of the last century. 1b this day, most texts and curricula reflect the survey-of-the-discipline pattern established by T. H. Huxley in 1890 in what is generally viewed as the first general biology text (Huxley and Marten, 1892~. From the earliest years, concerned groups and individuals have analyzed and criticized biology education. They have struggled to define its objectives and identify appropriate instructional strategies and materials. In a thoughtful article, "Biology Education in the United States During the Twentieth Century," Mayer (1986) reviewed the many major studies. Drawing on Paul DeHart Hurd's (1961) study, Biological Education in American Public Schools, 1890-1960, Mayer tells us that most of what we strive for in biology, education has been sought for a very long time. A 1909 report from the High School Teachers Association of New York supported an emphasis on applied biology and training in living and recommended such topics as conservation, health and nutrition, ecology, and critical thinking about biology as applied to daily life. In 1914, a committee of the Central Association of Science and Math- ematics Teachers set out as the purposes of science education "a knowledge of the world of nature in relation to everyday life, and an emphasis on career preparation and choice, on problem solving, and on a consideration of the degree of credibility of scientific knowledge." And in 1915, a com- mittee on natural sciences of the National Education Association stated
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OPENING ADDRESS 7 such objectives as development of the powers of reasoning and observation and acquaintance with the environment, with the structure and function of the human body, and with biological principles arising from these studies. The National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council are no strangers to the century-long effort to improve high-school biology education. By far the most ambitious and influential effort at improving high-school biology education was, and is, the Biological Sciences Curricu- lum Study (BSCS). Its history, objectives, personae and products are well known to us. I,here are enough BSCS veterans and current activists in the audience and on our program to ensure that the BSCS's contributions will not be neglected in our sessions. In fact, before our committee members write their report and make recommendations for curriculum content, they might do well to review the themes that pervaded all BSCS textbooks (yel- low, green, blue, and those unwritten) and to determine whether any of these need to be amended, replaced, or augmented: Change of living things through time: evolution. Diversity of type and unity of pattern among living things. The genetic continuity of life. Growth and development in the individual's life. The complementarily of structure and function. Regulation and homeostasis: the preservation of life in the face of change. The complementarily of organisms and environment. The biological basis of behavior. The nature of scientific inquiry. The intellectual history of biological concepts. And one more, added by current BSCS Director Joseph McInerney (1987~: Relationship between science and society. Before we address these themes, we must ask why the impact of BSCS diminishes and student performance continues to decline in the face of excellent instructional material prepared and field-tested by teachers and scientists who were guided by widely endorsed objectives. Mayer (1986) points out some of the problems: Despite the resounding triumph of the BSCS effort adoption by over half the nation's school districts, improved student performance, textbook sales in the millions, adaptations by 14 for- eign countries the sad truth is that there is resistance and resentment by the publishing community, by much of the professional academic education community, by many teachers who were unprepared to meet the demands of these new curricula, and by other institutional entities to this brave new
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! 8 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY approach. Guided by Mayer's analysis of the impediments to implemen- tation of BSCS biology, we will spend a substantial portion of time on strategies for removing institutional barriers. Implementation, however, becomes a problem only when we have something to implement. So let us think creatively about our task of redefining or restating high-school biology objectives. Knowledge about the living world and how it works is growing at an increasing rate while humankind's scientific literacy is falling behind. At the same time, our biotic kingdom is deteriorating. The last summer was calamitous. All along our northeast coast, medical waste and coliform bacteria contaminated the beaches. Algal blooms alter marine life. Toxic gases choke our cities. Drought and heat destroyed millions of acres of forests and crops. Was this a statistical blip or part of a pattern of global warming resulting from ozone depletion? We ask ourselves, is nature striking back? Have we exceeded our planet's ability to absorb our abuse? Is the booming global population, with its exponential consumption of energy and production of waste, threatening life as we know it? If life as we know it is threatened, we must examine every aspect of our human behavior for its impact on nature. Nature must be protected, not only for its own sake, but so that in turn it can continue to support human life. Should the biology curriculum not be seen in that context? Should we not be teaching the biology of survival on the basis of ecology, including human ecology? In The Thanatos Syndrome, novelist WaLker Pergy (1987) has his hero observe that "this is not the age of enlightenment but the age of not knowing what to do." Not knowing what to do Is no excuse for concluding that we can do nothing. We cannot sit by helplessly while biology education continues to fall short of the demands we can and must put on it to address our planet's integrity. We must not give In to despair, but must keep trying to find out what to do. Harold Horowitz, member of the NRC's Board on Biology, which is overseeing our study, is fond of saying, "Optimism is a moral imperative." So let us now, with optimism, get on with the task of figuring out what to do. REFERENCES Education Commission of the States. 1988. The Impact of State Policies on Improving Science Curriculum. Denver, Colo. Hurd, P. D. 1961. Biological Education in American Public Schools, 1890-1960. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Biological Sciences. Huxley, ~ H., and H. N. Marten. 1892. (Rev.) Practical Biology. London: Macmillan.
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OPENING ADDRESS 9 Mayer, W. 1986. Biology education in the United States during the twentieth century. Quart. Rev. Biol. 61:481-507. McInerney, J. D. 1987. Curriculum Development at the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. Educ. Leader. 44~4~:24-28. December 1986/Janua~y 1987. Percy, ~ 1987. The Thanatos Syndrome. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Shayer, M., and P. Adey. 1981. Towards a Science of Science Teaching. Curriculum development and curriculum demand. London: Heinemann Educational Books.
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Changing Conceptions of the Learner: Implications for Biology Teaching AUDREY B. CHAMPAGNE A quarter-century has elapsed since the scientific community last turned its attention to school science. The overriding concern of aca- demic scientists is that once again the content of school science Is out of date. Indeed, major developments have occurred in the sciences that are not yet reflected in science textbooks. However, simply updating the content will not adequately raise the quality of school science or signifi- cantly improve America's scientific literacy. Attaining these goals requires attention to the nature of Instruction, as well as the content of the school science curriculum. As we turn our thoughts to the future of high-school biology, we must not lose sight of the fact that in the last 25 years other significant changes have occurred that should determine in large measure how the new science Is taught and whether it Is learned. Among these changes are several that should guide our thinking about the nature of science instruction. Of the many factors that should influence instruction, none Is so Audrey B. Champagne, senior program director in the office of Science and Technology Educa- tion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (ALAS), directs the National Forum for School Science and the Project on Liberal Education and the Sciences. Dr. Cham- pagne was a senior scientist and project director at the Learning Research and Development Center and research professor of education at the University of Pittsburgh before joining AAAS in July 1984. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in chemistry from the State University of New York, Albany, an Ed.M. in science education from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Pittsburgh. 10
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CHANGING CONCEPTIONS OF THE LEARNER 11 important as the learner. Young people's school-related behaviors are determined by social and psychological factors, which determine what they will learn. Society's values are one of the factors that influence young people's attitudes toward education and learning science. In a nation that values cars, clothes, and cocaine more than learning, it is not surprising that many of our high-school students spend more time at their part-time jobs than on their homework Beyond the influence of social values on students' attitudes toward education and learning in general, social values exert profound influence on science learning. The overt manifestations of society's values are public attitudes toward science that are a study in contradictions. At a time when states are mandating more science credits for high-school graduation, society is delivering a contradictory message to American youth regarding the value of studying science. While Americans value the many ways in which science has improved their lives, they are becoming increasingly concerned by environmental degradation and troubled by the difficult moral and ethical choices science places on them. These concerns contribute to negative public attitudes toward science. These negative attitudes are reinforced by the ways in which scientists are portrayed in the media. Many young people have never had personal contact with a scientist. They get their image from the media, which portray scientists as nerds in white laboratory coats with thick glasses who relentlessly pursue science, neglecting family and personal needs. This unappealing image turns young people from science. Society's image of the scientist presents an even more serious problem for young women, Hispanics, and blacks. Society's perception that science and technology professions are the purview of the white male leads these young people to conclude that science is either socially unacceptable or intellectually unattainable to them. This perception pervades schools and science classrooms, where circumstances in this regard have not changed significantly since I was in junior high school and the science club was for boys only. Idday, the message is delivered in more subtle ways- for example, girls don't get called on or answer questions as much as boys in science-but the message is effective. These comments only touch the surface of the impact of social factors on students' opportunity to learn science and on their choices to study it. There is evidence that for young people from some subpopulations, black and Hispanic in particular, there is a mismatch between the modes of thought of their culture and those of science. In addition, the modes of teaching and learning that these youth experience in the home direr from the modes that they experience in their schools (Cohen, 1986~. Such factors as these are social in origin, but have implications for science learning. Science teachers expect that all entering students have the same
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32 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY 1b return more specifically to the topic at hand, I believe that the biology curriculum should concentrate on fundamental principles. The examples should illustrate these principles, but the most Important goal should be to impart a basic understanding that can then be applied to a host of similar biological problems. For example, there is very strong evidence that, in some patients, an inherited, therefore genetic, susceptibility is an important predisposing factor in the development of both malignant and nonmalignant diseases. It is now possible in many families to distinguish between individuals who are at risk and those not at risk How did this come about? The story of this discovery provides a forum for describing principles, as well as specific examples. HUMAN DISEASES AS EXAMPLES IN BIOLOGY Let me illustrate the goal of achieving a basic understanding of biolog- ical principles by going back to my major premise that there are so many exciting discoveries in medicine today that you can use them to illustrate any principle you wish to teach. I will pick just a limited area, one that I know something about, namely, the molecular analysis of human genes. Let us take colon cancer, which is of most concern to older individuals, who are at the greatest risk and who, of course, left high school long ago. These older people are grandmothers and grandfathers or great-aunts and great-uncles; thus, most children know someone or know of someone who has this disease. DNA as Carrier of Genetic Information A discussion of colon cancer provides us with a reason to discuss DNA as the carrier of information about how and when cells are to perform certain functions and to explain the notion that this information is contained in discrete units called genes. Some genes are defective before birth, and children who have such genes are born with malformations or with cells and tissues that do not function in the normal way. The ill effects of other genes become apparent only later in life. For those of us who inherit a predisposition to certain malignant diseases, it is possible to find the location of the responsible genes using modern techniques. The basis for these statements is reviewed in McKusisk (1988~. Use of Enzymes for Study of DNA The next concept required for an understanding of genetic analysis is that DNA can be cut in quite specific places by enzymes that recognize the pattern of the elements making up DNA (Alberta et al., in press). The
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THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION IN MEDICINE 33 pattern or sequence of these elements in a particular gene (I am referring here to the nucleotides or DNA bases) may be the same in many different individuals. The DNA from these individuals, when cut into pieces by a particular enzyme and placed in a gelatin slab in an electric current, will give a fragment of identical size when probed with the appropriate gene. Other individuals may have differences in the sequence of DNA bases that are unimportant for gene function, and this may lead to gain or loss of the specific sites cut by the same enzyme. This results in changes in the size of the DNA fragment when it is subjected to an electric current in the gelatin. These changes are DNA polymorphisms, called restriction-fragment-length polymorphisms (RFIPs, or riflips), and they are the basis for much of modern genetic-linkage analysis, especially in humans. Genetic Linkage The next concept is that of the linkage of genes and the linkage of DNA probes with genes in cases in which we have not yet identified or cloned the critical gene itself. In fact, this is the situation for many diseases which have been linked with DNA sequences or genes. One can establish the association of specific polymorphisms with a disease in a particular family and then analyze the DNA from a particular individual, to determine the likelihood that the individual is at risk for the disease. Genetic Analysis of Colon Cancer I will use the recent studies on colon cancer to illustrate the principles I have just described and their application. As a cytogeneticist, I am especially pleased, as I describe this research, to point out that the initial clue to the chromosomal location of one of these genes came from the study of the chromosomes of a patient with a rare disease that predisposes to colon cancer. This patient had a deletion involving the long arm of chromosome 5, and he had familial polyposis. A report describing this patient was published by Herrera et al. (1986~. Ray White and his colleagues in Salt Lake City (Leppert et al., 1987) and Walter Bodmer and his associates in London (1987) recognized the potential usefulness of this information, because the location of the other cancer-related genes had already been identified through their association with specific chromosomal abnormalities. 1b determine whether familial polyposis was associated with the abnormality of chromosome 5, both groups used pieces of DNA that were known to be polymorphic and that were mapped to this region of chromosome 5. Then they asked, "Are any of these DNA markers linked to the gene for polyposis in families in which a number of individuals in several generations had colon cancer and from whom DNA was available for analysis?" The
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34 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY answer was yes; at least one DNA marker was closely linked to familial polyposis. The next step was to look at DNA obtained from colon cancers in the general population. Ellen Solomon, an associate of Walter Bodmer, and co-workers (1987) showed by using the same marker probe that the tumor cells in up to 40% of colon cancers had a loss of genes on chromosome 5. These results have been confirmed by a recent study. This study was a collaborative effort of Bert Vogelstein at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Ray White in Salt Lake City, and Johannes Bos in the Netherlands and their colleagues (Vogelstein et al., 1988~. This illustrates the increasing complexity of research, which requires the collaboration of scientists with a variety of skills, often on different continents. Their report describes a complex analysis of 172 colorectal tumor specimens, including those that were premalignant, as well as frank cancers. The different laboratories used DNA probes for genes on three chromosomes, 5, 17, and 18; they also analyzed tumors for mutations in one of the cancer gene or proto-oncogene families, namely, the RAS genes. They observed the loss of genes from one or several chromosomes in 25-50% of all the tumors (adenomas and carcinomas) studied. Forty percent of all tumors had a mutation in a RAS gene. Their most important observation was that there is a correlation between the degree of malignancy and the number of genetic (usually chromosomal) changes in the cells. Thus, at least one genetic change was detected in only about 25% of very small polyps, compared with 92% of carcinomas. These data provide evidence that the ONA changes that were monitored in this study are likely to be important ones, each of which contributes to a more malignant and more aggressive phenotype. We know from experimental studies that several changes are required in different genes for a normal cell to change to a fully malignant one. The data in this colon-cancer study show that at least four genes can contribute to the development of a cancer cell. It is quite likely that additional genes will be identified in the future. In this study, the investigators found evidence of a sequence of changes, but it was not an invariant sequence. Thus, when they were identified at all, RAS gene mutations and deletion of chromosome 5 occurred during an early, less-malignant stage, whereas a deletion of chromosome 18 followed later, and deletion of chromosome 17 later still. In some patients, deletions were detected only in the middle of the affected chromosome. Mapping the region of deletion provided information on the probable location of the important gene on each chromosome. These studies on colon cancer are more sophisticated than those reported for lung or breast cancer, because multiple DNA changes in pairs of tumor and normal tissues from the same patient were analyzed. This
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THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION IN MEDICINE 35 is just an example of studies that will be described over the next decade. Certainly, future investigations will be even more complex. As I have already indicated, similar types of analyses are in progress covering a wide range of inherited human diseases, both diseases that result from a mutation in a single gene (for example, cystic fibrosis or sickle-cell anemia) and diseases that result from the interaction of several genes (such as coronary arterial disease or stroke). If American citizens are to comprehend how they can apply this new information to themselves or to their families, they must have an adequate education in biology. THE HUMAN GENOME MAPPING PROJECT I have not touched on another compelling reason for emphasizing genetics in teaching biology. I am referring to mapping and sequencing the human genome, which will be a major commitment in biology for the next 2 decades (National Research Council, 1988~. For biology, this project is comparable to our space program or to our efforts in high-energy physics. Its cost over this period is estimated to be greater than $3 billion, $200,000,000 a year for 15 years. It would be very helpful if the public were sufficiently educated to understand the benefits of such a commitment. In a time of increasingly limited resources, hard choices must be made. Will members of the public support the level of funding required for successful mapping and sequencing of the human genome if they cannot appreciate its value to them and their families? The report of the National Reseach Council committee stressed that this project would "greatly enhance progress in human biology and medi- cine." Although the technology for accomplishing this immense task in an efficient and cost-effective manner is not yet available, the committee's recommendations are to develop a more complete physical map of the chromosomes; then to proceed with sequencing of genes that are function- ing, that are expressed in cells; and finally to sequence the pieces of DNA that are between these genes. You will recognize that keeping track of 3 billion nucleotides is a major data management problem that will require substantial improvements in computers and computer programs. This will become increasingly essential as scientists wish to compare different genes to learn more about the correlation between the DNA sequence of a gene and its functional components. Moreover, it has been proposed that paral- lel projects to sequence the genomes of other species mouse, Drosophila, etc. be undertaken at the same time. This will allow scientists to compare the DNA sequences, but perhaps more importantly the organization of genes for the same protein in different species, to achieve an increased understanding of the relationship between the structure of a gene and its function. This information will also provide additional insights into the
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36 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY changes that occur with evolution. Again, a major increase in computer capabilities will be required to make these comparisons in an efficient and effective manner. Of course, there Is concern about the social, legal, and ethical impli- cations of such a project. It is recognized that this project "could provide a great deal of new knowledge about the genetic basis of human disease. However, the effects of that knowledge will be highly colored by the ways its practical Implications are interpreted" (National Research Council, 1988, p. 101~. CONCLUSION I have tried to give examples of the progress being made In medicine today and to show how the teaching of a few general principles can provide a framework for students to understand many of the new discoveries in genetics. It will not be easy to help students achieve the necessary level of such an understanding. However, I believe that they can appreciate the importance of this knowledge and that this appreciation, provided by enthusiastic teachers and first-rate instructional material, will lead to a better-educated and more-~nformed American public. REFERENCES Alberts, B., D. Bray, J. Lewis, M. Raff, K. Roberts, and J. D. Watson. In press. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 2nd ed. New York: Garland. Bodmer, W. F., C. J. Bailey, J. Bodmer, H. J. R. Bussey, A. Ellis, P. Gorman, F. C. Lucibello, V. ~ Murday, S. H. Rider, P. Scambler, D. Sheer, E. Solomon, and N. K. Spurr. 1987. Localization of the gene for familial adenomatous polyposis on chromosome 5. Nature 328:614-616. Herrera, L., S. Kakati, ~ Gibas, E. Piet~zak, and A. A. Sandberg. 1986. Brief clinical report: Gardner syndrome in a man with an interstitial deletion of 5q. Amer. J. Med. Genet. 25:473-476. Leppert, M., M. Dobbs, P. Scambler, P. O'Connell, Y. Nakamura, D. Stau~er, S. Woodward, R. Burt, I. Hughes, E. Gardner, M. Lathrop, J. Wasmuth, J.-M. Lalouel, and R. White. 1987. The gene for familial polyposis cold maps to the long arm of chromosome 5. Science 238:1411-1413. McKusick, V. ~ 1988. The Morbid Anatomy of the Human Genome: A Review of Gene Mapping in Clinical Medicine. Bethesda, Md.: Howard Hughes Medical Institute. National Research Council. 1988. Mapping and Sequencing the Human Genome. Washing- ton: D.C.: National Academy Press. Solomon E., R. Voss, V. Hall, W. F. Bodmer, J. R. Jass, A. J. Jeffreys, F. C. Lucibello, I. Patel, and S. H. Rider. 1987. Chromosome 5 allele loss in human colorectal carcinomas. Nature 328:616-619. Vogelstein, B., E. R. Fearon, S. R. Hamilton, S. E. Kern, A. C. Preisinger, M. Leppert, Y. Nakamura, R. White, ~ M. M. Smits, and J. ~ Bos. 1988. Genetic alterations during colorectal-tumor development. New Engl. J. Med. 319:525-532.
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6 High-School Biology Training: A Prospective Employer's View HARVEY S. SADOW INTRODUCTION: THE PROBLEM I do not teach biology at the high-school or any other level, nor do I now have a certificate to teach anything, including biology. I have not engaged in biological research for roughly 20 years. I am certainly not a specialist in, nor even more than perhaps modestly informed about, cur- riculum In high-school biology. Finally, my days as an educator are so far In the dim and distant past that I really cannot claim more than "having been. . . ." Thus, having completely destroyed my credibility by acknowledging my lack of credentials, I will demonstrate my temerity by talking about high-school biology education today, but especially today In the face of tomorrow's needs, as an employer of a large body of research scientists, physicians, and technicians without advanced or collegiate education. You may justifiably ask why I am here, having obviously admitted my limitations; to that the answer must be that I have a concern about the teaching of the scientific disciplines, such as biology, in our high-school programs. I am compelled, however, In that concern by the recognition of Hanrey S. Sadow is chairman of the board of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation and its for- mer chief executive officer and president. He is a member of the board of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and chairman of the board of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers As- sociation Foundation. Dr. Sadow is also president of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. He received a B.S. from the Virginia Military Institute, where he senres on the board of visitors; an M.S. from the University of Kansas; and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. 37
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38 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY another trend that forces the issue. The United States, for many reasons, has passed rapidly in the last 2 decades from a pre-eminently manufacturing economy to one of service. If the United States is to regain its pre-eminent position in the production-technological areas, it must commit itself to enhanced scientific innovation, which, of course, means the stimulation of the evolution, and conversion to practice, of new ideas. As has been said about the manufacturing economies of many states, including my own Connecticut, in a changing, competitive world, it is necessary to innovate or die at least on the economic limb! Another fact is increasingly inescapable, and it is brought home daily in our experience in western Connecticut, where the company I have led is. There is a significant and growing shortage of technically qualified or even trainable labor, which seriously threatens the innovative high-technology R&D and manufacturing components of our company. Dr. Handler, in her opening remarks, cited the observations of Arm- strong and co-workers (the Education Commission of the States) concerning the relatively poor American student achievement in scientific education, compared with that of other developed countries, emphasizing that science instruction has had a low priority; the teachers of science are inadequately trained; there are teacher shortages in certain basic scientific fields, accom- panied by a decline in the enrollment of high-school students in science courses and, among other things, the lack even of a consensus as to why science should be taught, what should be taught, and to whom, and thus, how the process can be changed. Perhaps even more troubling than the reference to Armstrong et al. was the statement that these young people are deficient in their understanding of biology as a "coherent discipline." Reference has been made to both public and political failure to acknowl- edge, or perhaps even create public policy concerning, educational realities, as in the field of biology. Then again, American mores and attitudes have changed over the years since the end of World War II. Discipline, especially self-discipline, seems to have evaporated in the process of developing young people. Is it any wonder that the undisciplined would, of necessity, seek to avoid the strict disciplines of either the physical or the natural sciences, especially if there are easier ways to get high-school diplomas? The prob- lem, therefore, of attracting the interest of these young minds to the field of biology, and keeping it, is one of the reasons for this conference. SHOULD BIOLOGY BE TAUGIIT IN HIGH SCHOOL? The answer for me is unequivocally `'Yes!" Biology is no longer simply a descriptive field in the range of the natural sciences. It has, just in the last 10-20 years, changed to a vibrant, dynamic multidiscipline, which has invaded chemistry, physics, mathematics, and indeed even the technologies
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HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY TRAINING 39 of engineering, especially electronics. It seems to me that the important subordinate questions suggested by Dr. Handler, which must also be asked, include: "A Whom?" "What?" And perhaps even precedent to these questions, "Why?" I will try, from the prospective employer's point of view, to answer. WHO SIlALL BE TAUGHT? AND WHY? Young minds if they are to benefit from the explosion of new infor- mation, which will certainly, in some way, touch everyone's life-must be prepared to adapt, early on, to the present dynamism of biology. That dy- namism, of necessity, directly influences biology education. That adaptive preparation must be based on the soundest possible foundation of basic knowledge and understanding of biology as the basic science of life itself. I believe that today, in most high schools, there is at least one required course in "general science." This affords an initial exposure, however su- perficial, to very basic information on the nature of living things. Obviously (at least to me), it would be preferable to offer a basic course in biology as a scientific discipline to all whose interest in the field may have been stimulated either by such a basic science course or, if none were available, by reading, by advice from career guidance counselors, or by completion of courses, particularly in basic chemistry or physics. Of course, prior basic knowledge in- physics and chemistry would be highly desirable to ensure a better understanding of the processes and mechanisms prevailing in living organisms. 1b those young people who may be college-bound, I would "sell" the virtue of the study of basic biology, as well as chemistry and physics, as an assurance of doing better, earlier, in the college-level study of these sciences. those students not headed for college who show any aptitude for the scientific disciplines, I would also "sell" the study of biology as fundamental job preparation, especially for technician jobs. Even if the student shows no aptitude for biology as a scientific discipline, study of the subject might still be encouraged, if only for the awareness and understanding it can afford of basic life processes seen or experienced day by day throughout one's life. Even though the interests and goals of high-school students are not all the same, it should be possible to bring home the fact that in the study of biology, there is something for everyone. WIlAT SI-IOULD BE TAUGHT? Now, the answers get a bit stickier. What will be taught depends on who will be taught. In a sense, we are dealing with divergent populations: the college-bound, including those who will seek only undergraduate degrees,
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40 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY with or without a major in biology or any other scientific discipline, and those who will ultimately pursue biological science-related professional degrees and careers; and the non-college-bound, whose exposure, if any, to biology as an academic pursuit will be an isolated or terminal one and who may or may not find jobs in biological science-related fields possible, but who, if they do, will receive further on-thejob technical training in industry, clinical laboratories, or other workplaces. Should all those divergent student populations be taught the same way? The answer must obviously be `'yes." All, regardless of direction of later pursuits, would benefit from a few essential basics in biology education. To my way of thinking and experience, these essentials might include the following: . An understanding of the structure and function of living organisms; thus, fundamental life processes, regardless of form. · Application of that understanding of life processes to things seen in the world around us. · An understanding of the "scientific method" and its application. · Learning by doing simple biology laboratory procedures, not only to enhance hands-on experience, but also to develop basic manipulative skills. These basics, to which I am sure others might be added, should be taught to all high-school students without regard for the post-high-school education or work intentions. For the future college students, they will provide foundations for the next stage of the learning process, as intended. Good and sound curricula taught by motivated and adequately trained teachers should open young minds to the opportunities in the biological sciences, and especially to the value of at least basic biology education and to the appreciation of how things around us are affected by disturbances in the balances of life processes (e.g., environmental pollution, disease, and atmospheric change, to name just a few). High-school biology education can encourage the uncertain student of certain potential to begin to discriminate and thus choose previously unknown or unappreciated further foci in later education and ultimate career pursuit. For the fortunate young person who always knew what he or she wanted to do, in the areas founded on or related to biological sciences, high-school biology educational exposure may prove to be the first real confirmation of the wisdom-or even lack thereof of that presumption. Of course, for the student motivated to pursue some career-related interest in biology, additional material, probably closer to applications of the science, might, given the institutional resources, be offered but in advanced courses. Thus, one could foresee course work in the principles and applications of genetics, as in zoology, botany, biotechnology (DNA
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HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY TRAINING 41 manipulation), and environment as a biological entity. The list is much longer and might even include, with caution, societal concerns with biology. However, the issue here might be how much is enough or too much. I say that, because of the evident mismatch between expectations and capacities, both individual and institutional, with which everyone in high- school education must live. Returning to the view of the issue that I hold as a prospective employer, the college-bound are of less immediate concern in relation to high-school biology training. Except for adequacy of preparation to receive more education in biology, the young person leaving college will, it is hoped, have already gone beyond basics and thus be ready for a position, even if of limited scope or responsibility, in research, development, or related biological technology at the technician or more advanced level. What about the non-college-bound students? Regardless of the rea- sons for that decision, whether they are economic or social, let us assume some capacity to learn, absorb, and even apply basic high-school biology training. We have found that with good basic biology education, these youngsters can quickly grasp principles and practice in a typical biochem- istry, toxicology, physiology, or even pharmacology research laboratory or biological quality-control or clinical-assay laboratory. The quick absorption and understanding of a technician's work, thanks to high-school biology training, helps to make these young people productive economic contrib- utors to their jobs when receiving on-thejob training. That means earlier advancement and better job opportunities, albeit at technician levels. For some, however, on-thejob training has reinforced interest in biological sci- ence as a career; and, family circumstances permitting, it has encouraged at least a few to seek higher education as an assurance of the achievement of greater biology-related career goals. Observation of weaknesses in high-school biology training for these students usually illuminates two prime areas: · Inadequate manipulative training and thus limited laboratory pro- cedural sldlls. Little or no real knowledge of scientific methods or their applica tion. CONCLUSION Having made these views known, I should say that I recognize that probably everything that I have said here has been said before, many times. As in the educational process itself, however, repetition can lead to recognition, to acceptance, and to ultimate action. Biology, once the "easy" science in high school, and even in our colleges, is now both the foundation and the capstone for some of the greatest advances in our understanding
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42 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY of life processes in health and disease and thus of our capacity to intervene successfully and restore balance. Ib my mind, therefore, it is our obligation to lay solid foundations of basic knowledge, and thus understanding of life processes, in the high-school setting, so that our young citizens may benefit, as fully as their individual capacities permit, from our progress in this field.
Representative terms from entire chapter: