Wayne Melville, Doug Jones, Todd Campbell
2015 | 118 pp | $29.95 (£19.81)
Reimagining the science department is a book written to help secondary science heads of department institute and lead a significant change in how science is taught in their schools. It is chiefly aimed at teachers in the US who are trying to adapt to teaching the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This change in teaching emphasis can be characterised as a move away from traditional, academic teaching of canonical science to a more progressive curriculum with a greater emphasis on evaluating scientific evidence, investigative and problem-solving skills.
Through looking at the history of the development of science teaching in schools and the sociology of teachers working together in a department, the book explains how there is often a great resistance to change. It moves on to describe the central role of the chair or head of science in overcoming this resistance and effecting change. The authors explore how different management structures and styles of leadership can help or inhibit innovation. They do not offer quick fix solutions to initiating change but describe how building trusting relationships, leading by example, being reflective and creating a collegiate atmosphere will help change occur. The book acknowledges that each department is different, that change is unlikely to be linear and smooth, and it is likely to take several years to take root. Throughout the book, the authors combine research and real-life vignettes to illustrate their case.
Considering its US focus, it may appear superficially that the book is of limited interest to teachers outside the US education system, but this would be the wrong conclusion. Change is a recurrent feature of almost all educational landscapes and managing change is an essential role for all heads of science. I recognised much of what the authors described as matching my own experience in the UK. Although some of the terminology and science standards may be unfamiliar to those not teaching in the US, Reimagining the science department is very useful for any head of science trying to bring about change in the way science is taught in their school.