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On Developing Curriculum

by Dan Bisaccio

"Doing Science As Science Is Done"


Jean Henri Fabre, a 19th Century French naturalist and teacher, once wrote: "Because I have stirred a few grains of sand on the shore, am I in a position to know the depths of the ocean? Life has unfathomable secrets. Human knowledge will be erased from the archives of the world before we possess the last word that the Gnat has to say to us.....".

I often think that perhaps the "best thing" I could possible do for kids in my science classes is to reacquaint them with nature and our world. As children, we all have a natural curiousity about nature and life. Many, however, seem to out grow the need to explore the natural environment and catch bugs or frogs...something I have been most fortunate (at times, to the chagrin of my family) not to out grow.

Christopher Joyce (editor and founder of the U.S. Bureau of the British Journal, NEW SCIENTIST, stated in a recent article; "during our evolution from knuckle-walkers to mall-builders, we forget that we have spent most of our time as hunter-gathers living in and from nature".

There has always been a love (biophilia) - fear (biophobia) tension that has existed between "us" and nature. We enjoy the serenity of a pastoral or forest setting but have a fear of snakes or invertebrates. In developed countries, we resoundly state "Save The Rainforests" as we continue to purchase mahogany. In the United States we explore the tension between logging and the right for the spotted owl to exist while we all forget it is the habitat that we need to preserve...not just one cute species we may identify with.

So... in developing curriculum my fundamental goal is to reacquaint kids with nature and help them see the connections and choices they can make as one species in and among the living parts. What follows are the steps I use in developing curriculum. If you are interesting in participating in a field project and receive Staff Development credit and/or college units, check out "Opportunities For Teachers".

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