The Immersion Approach

by Jeannie Fulbright, homeschool science author.

Is it Okay to Spend a Year on One Science Topic?

Though many educators promote the spiral approach to education wherein a child is exposed over and over again to minute amounts of a variety of science topics, we believe there is a far better way.

The theory goes that we just want to "expose" the child to science at this age. Each year he is given a tad bit more information than was given the year before, thus spiraling upward. However, this approach supposes that young minds are incapable of understanding deeper science; and education is thus dumbed down. Sadly, this '"exposure" method has proved unsuccessful in the public and private schools as NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) statistic show American eighth graders (all having been trained under this method) are consistently less than 50% proficient in science. This data reveals this approach to be an inadequate methodology in education.

If we continually present children with scant and insufficient science, they will fail to develop a love for the subject. If the learning is skimpy, the subject seems monotonous. The child is simply scratching the surface of the amazing and fascinating information available in science. And, sadly, students taught in this way are led to believe they “know all about” a subject, when in reality the subject is so much richer than they were allowed to know or explore.

That is why we recommend that kids, even young kids, are given an in-depth, above their perceived grade level, exploration into each science topic. You, the educator, have the opportunity to abandon methods that don’t work so that your students can learn in the ways that have been proven effective.

The immersion approach is the way everyone, even young kids, learn best. That is why we major in one field in college and take many classes in that field alone. If you immerse your child in one field of science for an entire year, they will develop a love for both that subject and a love for learning in general. When a child really knows a subject, they become an expert on it. They have a genuine knowledge and understanding that most high school children haven’t been able to comprehend.

However, if they rush through several fields of science in one year, they will feel unknowledgeable and insecure about the information. And in fact, they are unknowledgeable. But imagine the benefit to your child when he is able to authentically converse with the botanist at the botanical gardens, intelligently discussing the dynamics and idiosyncrasies that are seen in the plants. This will delight both your student and others with conversation that is actually interesting and intelligent, occurring because you discarded the method of teaching to the test, and studied a subject to a degree that your child knew the inner workings of that subject. A child taught in this manner learns to love knowledge and develop confidence.

Additionally, a child that is focused on one subject through an entire year is being challenged mentally in ways that will develop his or her ability to think critically and retain complex information. This will actually benefit the child and give him an advantage on achievement tests. He will be able to make more intelligent inferences about the right answer on science questions, as God has created an orderly world that works very similarly throughout all matters of science. A child who has not been given the deeper, more profound information will not understand how the scientific world operates, and can not even guess the correct answer on standardized tests.

Yes, it is wise to spend an entire year on one field of science. And I believe you will find that you, your children and their test results will profit greatly from this method. Science will become a favorite subject as the student finally attains to a greater understanding of God's world and how it works. And when he learns about another field, he will be able to make comparisons and contrasts, thinking critically about the subject because of his strong foundation.

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