on May 17, 2003
Preserving the legacy in difficult times
Thanks for your thoughtful analysis of the possible legacy of the LSC
"movement." I want to use a name a bit broader than simply an NSF
program. From my own experience it is indeed, a movement in the sense
that the participants buy into a vision that is larger than the
specific requirements of the NSF funding and that generates more energy
and commitment than is needed to fulfill the mandate of 100+ hours of
There are, indeed, a range of possible legacies as you describe, and
looking at a range of LSC projects, thereís evidence for all of these
to various degrees in individual districts.
But what strikes me most powerfully about your analysis, is how little
it matches the current national preoccupation with standards and with
high stakes testing. Most of what you identify certainly wonít show up
as improved student test scores in the tests that are used, not will it
show up on the other "scientific" measures now forcefully recommended
by the administration.
It will take much more subtle and in-depth studies of education, the
kind of research and evaluation that requires as much effort, time and
commitment as does the LSC work itself.
Among the factors that contribute to the legacy of the LSC is also the
legacy of work that happened long before they began. In many districts
where Iíve worked, there were wonderful, individual teachers and
administrators who had a long history of supporting inquiry science
teaching; some going back to the 1960ís curricula and various
professional development and other education efforts over decades.
This longer history also contributes to progress.
All this suggests that political work to generate support for gathering
the evidence is as important as anything else we could do in attempting
to document the legacy of LSC and support the continuation of whatís
achieved. If LSC results are not recognized thereís certainly the
danger that they will go underground until the next wave of interest in
inquiry science at some distant future time.