DJB is in a crusade to bring back science as a distinct subject in the early grades of the basic education curriculum (BEC). Since 2002, science has been integrated with Makabayan and English. For Makabayan there are these subject areas: Social Studies, Music and Arts, Technology and Livelihood, and Values Education.
DJB's current crusade should let us think about the problems of teaching science in basic education. Dina Ocampo et al's paper (2009) (also a UP Centennial lecture) on reforms that don't transform in the DepEd should be a requisite backgrounder on dealing with the problem of basic science education.
Despite the extensive discussion on the various surveys on Philippine educational reform and the vexed issue of language of instruction, one important point in this paper is that we haven't effected a shift from structure based to constructivist based approaches to education. Here lies the nuts and bolts of the post-modern debate on science education. What is better? Content based sci-ed (structure based) or inquiry based sci-ed (constructivist)? Recent pedagogical approaches in the US and Commonwealth countries point to a concept based approach that rapidly moves on to an experimental hands on based approach. This is supported by some research but remains controversial.
Obviously the latter choice will require extensive infrastructure in the provision of science labs in elementary and high schools. Even in the USA, there has been a trend to de-emphasize science in basic education by reducing the core subjects to earth/physical sciences, biology and chemistry. This is partially due to the expense of providing these programs. There is also a trend to integrate the sciences along a more humanistic and social studies theme. In the UK upper level basic education programmes may have 21st science as an option for their school leavers certificate.
I am quite aware of this first hand when I taught at Lousiana State University. Thus the concern that the United States is losing its competitive edge in science has some basis. In the USA, the integration of science along humanistic lines occurs in junior high. Physics has been the first casualty here and universities and colleges are quite worried that students get into science and engineering with not much physics to begin with!
I am no expert nor a practitioner in basic science education but we in higher education get the products of basic education. The leveling process in introductory college science courses includes removing out misconceptions due to previous thinking or views of the world. In my Philippine experience of college science teaching these misconceptions often have a religious and cultural/superstition basis. This BTW cuts across social classes. The rich have their own unscientific ideas and the poor theirs. The common between these are religious in origin and class based misconceptions persist especially on human biology and health. The recent study by Professor JR Torres of Rizal Technological University on astronomy concepts is proof that these misconceptions persist.
It is certain that inquiry based science should include factual knowledge since it is impossible to do experiments on all basic science concepts. A good grounding on both the experimental and factual bases of science is necessary in metacognition in which students begin to integrate and form their own scientfic theories. This starts in high school and further developed in college/university. In the MSc and PhD levels, this is further honed. However we notice that even at the MSc level, we have to teach science the undergrad way since students haven't developed the basic metacognition competencies!
In the US, UK, EU, Japan, and China, science is taught as a single subject from the early grades to at least in high school where the basic sciences are taught as separate subjects. The trend to teach science along humanistic and social studies lines risks it being tainted with ideological bias. This is something that isn't part of a scientific culture and will retard scientific development Teaching basic science in Makabayan risks this and may not develop thinking skills for a globalized technology driven environment.
SOURCE: Philippine Commentary