David Blades has made it his mission to change the way we teach science in schools.
“Early elementary students love science, but by Grade 11 or 12, they hate it,” says Dr. Blades, who is a professor of science education and curriculum theory.
The bulk of his research is on updating the current school science curriculum, which dates back to the mid-20th century and fails to engage students who are not interested in a science career.
“Every single person in society needs to understand what science is, what it can and can’t do for us and how it can help us engage in topics that are relevant to our daily lives,” says Dr. Blades. “I want my grandchildren to enter into a world where we’re able to enact a more responsible ways of living on the planet and with each other.”
Dr. Blades works directly with the BC Ministry of Education and other governments across Canada to develop a new, more relevant curriculum based on ethics. Science education should focus on our responsibility to each other and to nature, rather than on economic or political competition, he says. “Teachers need to do more than teach scientific facts; they need to relate their lessons to the students’ roles as citizens, so that kids can–for example–combat global warming at home.”
Dr. Blades also teaches his own students how to make science relevant in their future classrooms. He has his students explain why they should teach the lessons they plan, saying: “If you can’t explain a lesson’s importance, then you shouldn’t teach it. You need to connect it to life.”