Falk and Dierking's 95% Solution

The most interesting thing I read over the holiday was Falk and Dierking’s article “The 95 Percent Solution” in the Nov-Dec 2010 issue of American Scientist. (The article is behind a paywall at its source, but Google turned up this cached PDF copy.) The key stat is at the end of the first page:

Elementary-school-aged U.S. children perform as well as or better than most children in the world, but the performance of older U.S. children has been mediocre at best. Interestingly, however, for more than 20 years, U.S. adults have consistently outperformed their international counterparts on science literary measures...

Their explanation (which they back up with copious primary and secondary research) is that American adults have access to, and use, a “vibrant free-choice science learning landscape…filled with a vast array of digital resources, educational television and radio, science museums, zoos, aquariums, national parks, community activities such as 4-H and scouting and many other scientifically enriching enterprises.” Putting it another way, people do learn about science: they just learn it from Mythbusters, rather than in class.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the article (not least the observation that trying to reproduce what works in free-choice settings in the classroom doesn’t work). There are also lots of implications for computer science education…

In the wake of posts about Shopify's support for white nationalists and DataCamp's attempts to cover up sexual harassment
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