The Recommendations Have Been Selected on the Basis of Both Scientific and Human Significance

The schools do not need to be asked to teach more and more content, but to teach less in order to teach it better. By concentrating on few topics, teachers can introduce ideas gradually, in a variety of contexts, reinforcing and extending them as students mature. Students will end up with richer insights and deeper understandings than they could hope to gain from a superficial exposure to more topics than they can assimilate. The problem for curriculum developers, therefore, is much less what to add than what to eliminate.

Reversing the accretion of material over scores of years is thus a major goal of Project 2061. But addressing this goal has meant making choices. The criteria for identifying a common core of learning in science, mathematics, and technology were both scientific and educational. Consideration was given first to the ideas that seemed to be of unusual scientific importance, because there is simply too much knowledge for anyone to acquire in a lifetime, let alone 13 years. This meant favoring content that has had great influence on what is worth knowing now and what will still be worth knowing decades hence, and ruling out topics mainly of only passing technical interest or limited scientific scope. In particular, concepts were chosen that could serve as a lasting foundation on which to build more knowledge over a lifetime. The choices then had to meet important criteria having to do with human life and with the broad goals that justify universal public education in a free society. The criteria were:

Utility. Will the proposed content--knowledge or skills--significantly enhance the graduate's long-term employment prospects? Will it be useful in making personal decisions?

Social Responsibility. Is the proposed content likely to help citizens participate intelligently in making social and political decisions on matters involving science and technology?

The Intrinsic Value of Knowledge. Does the proposed content present aspects of science, mathematics, and technology that are so important in human history or so pervasive in our culture that a general education would be incomplete without them?

Philosophical Value. Does the proposed content contribute to the ability of people to ponder the enduring questions of human meaning such as life and death, perception and reality, the individual good versus the collective welfare, certainty and doubt?

Childhood Enrichment. Will the proposed content enhance childhood (a time of life that is important in its own right and not solely for what it may lead to in later life)?

The Recommendations Are Neither All New Nor Intended to Be Fixed for All Time

In formulating recommendations, no attempt was made to either seek novelty or avoid it. The task was to identify a minimal core of critical understandings and skills, whether or not they happen to be part of current school curricula. The recommendations do not constitute the only possible ones, and indeed there were differences among the participants in this project on various topics. The national council does believe, however, that the recommendations make good sense and that they offer a sound basis for designing curricula in science, mathematics, and technology.

But science, mathematics, and technology are continually in flux--holding onto some ideas and ways of doing things, reshaping or discarding some, adding others. The time will inevitably come--sooner in some areas than others--when the recommendations will need to be revised to accommodate new knowledge. Furthermore, as educators and scientists work together in Phase II of Project 2061 to design curriculum models based on this report, they are likely to reach their own conclusions on the appropriateness of these recommendations and to suggest changes. In any case, the recommendations are not presented to set up a new and unalterable orthodoxy, but rather to provide a credible resource for the Phase II development, to provoke lively debate on the question of the content of education, and to catalyze curriculum reform.

This Report Is Not a Curriculum Document or a Textbook

The reader should not expect to find recommendations in this report on what should be taught in any particular course or at any grade level. The report deals only with learning goals--what students should remember, understand, and be able to do after they have left school as a residue of their total school experience--and not with how to organize the curriculum to achieve them. Neither is the presentation of recommendations meant to instruct the reader as a text does. No linear presentation of topics can satisfactorily represent the connectedness of ideas and experiences that would be essential in an actual curriculum or textbook.

The Recommendations Are Intended to Convey the Levels of Understanding Appropriate for All People

For most educational purposes, broad generalizations (such as 'everyone should know how science and technology are related') are no more useful than are long lists of specific topics (atoms, cells, planets, graphs, etc.). Neither approach reveals what is to be learned, and both require the reader to guess what level of sophistication is intended. Thus, the specific recommendations in this report are framed in enough detail to convey the levels of understanding and the contexts of understanding intended. The recommendations have been formulated under four levels of generalization:

Chapters. Each chapter deals with a major set of related topics. Collectively, the chapter titles lay out a conceptual framework for understanding science that people can use throughout their lives as they gain new knowledge about the world.

Headings. Within each chapter, headings such as Forces That Shape the Earth or Interdependence of Life identify the conceptual categories that all students should be familiar with. A list of all the headings would provide an approximate answer to the question of the scope, but not the content, of the specific recommendations.

Paragraphs. Under each heading are paragraphs that express the residual knowledge, insights, and skills that people should possess after the details have faded from memory. If high school graduates were interviewed about a topic--Information Processing, say--they should be able to come up, in their own words, with the ideas sketched in the paragraphs under that heading.

Vocabulary. The language of the recommendations is intended to convey the level of learning advocated. The recommendations are written for today's educated adults, not students--but the technical vocabulary is limited to what would be desirable for all students to command, as a minimum, by the time they finish school. This vocabulary should be viewed as a product of a sound education in science, mathematics, and technology, but not its main purpose.

In sum, the recommendations are--to different degrees of specificity--implicit in the titles, headings, text, and vocabulary of the 12 chapters that follow. Yet there is no way, in so short a document, to convey the quality of knowledge envisaged across the full range of topics. This quality--the way in which something is known--depends largely on how it is learned. In this regard, the discussion of learning and teaching in Part III provides a perspective for understanding the nature of the recommendations themselves.

consideration: 本来は約因と訳すべき言葉ですが、この法律用語を知っている人がどれだけいるかという話で、SFAAの訳に使うのは問題ありと考えたので、単純に合意としました。
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