Response to 1st Response—Cautionary Praise of Active Learning and InquiryLearning science with a hands-on approach really does offer wide possibilities for the teacher and the students, who will now have a greater chance to practice (rather than just hear about) the techniques involved in scientific activity. Reference to the resources available through government and other websites on the internet is helpful, as qualms I had previously had about being able to come up with novel methods of hands-on teaching were quelled. However, I do wonder at the statement made about having to memorize large amounts of data. I doubt that, even in active learning, students will be able to avoid memorization altogether. Plus, textbooks do provide a large quantity of data that took millennia of active research for scientists to discover. Therefore, it is hardly likely that students will be able to learn all they need to without reading these texts (or accessing similar material via other methods).
Still, active learning is a powerful teaching method that should be employed to a greater degree in the classroom.Response to 2nd Response—Drawbacks of Active Learning and InquiryThe practical aspects of this response are very important to consider. Certainly, active learning is a good method in theory, but in practice it is hampered by so many things. There really is not enough time for students to actively learn all the material they need to cover both for state exams and for completing all that is necessary to understand the particular scientific discipline that they learn. Other forms of instruction (such as lecturing) which may be less effective as a learning tool end up being more practical because of the sheer amount of material that needs to be covered. Plus, the role of student inquiry outside of class cannot be underestimated, and often this requires less hands-on activity because of the lack of scientifically skilled supervision.
Students still need to read. There’s no getting around this—reading defines an enormous part of scientific inquiry. An enormous part of the professional scientist’s career is spent reviewing literature published by others. Active and practical learning does need to be done more in the classroom, but it should not be touted so much as to discount the importance of traditional methods.