Teaching and "The Doing of STS"

In 1992, Phil Heath wrote “Organizing for STS teaching and learning: The doing of STS” in the education and policy journal Theory into Practice, and while an abstract for this article is not available, it is about teaching students STS, specifically those students whom are not STSers (like us).

Really not like us…

The article is about children and infusing STS concepts, perspectives, etc. into the American K-12 educational landscape. The justification being that

“many educators are concerned that the existing curriculum in most schools is too narrowly focused, too historically bound, and too compartmentalized to deal adequately with these new challenges” (52).

Those “new challenges” mainly being the improvement of citizenship in a technological age. The authors make a number of thought-provoking points (and they state a lot of junk that I don’t care for from education types), but above all, I thought this might have some valuable cache for us:

“The formationof multidisciplinary and multigrade teams within the school system is fundamental to our successful infusion of STS and for sustained success” (57).

Group work, which when done properly, draws from the group’s knowledge, might be a way to get non-STS students to appreciate the concepts.Likewise, the author correctly writes that “current issues” is also a pool from which great examples can be drawn for use in the STS or social theory classroom wherein not everyone is a major or even interested in the theoretical issues.

Still, getting back to the article, it makes me wonder: why is STS such a joke in American K-12 schools? Pointing the figure at an honest American debacle, “No Child Left Behind,” seems like a good, fun start, but there is something about STS being, dare I say, excluded during childhood education and “ghettoized” among colleges and universities. Certainly, Penn State’s STS program termination comes at a time where I wonder for the future of STS (although, Harvard actioning a program at the exact same time was encouraging).