Educators should teach facts only after their students have studied the ideas, trends, and concepts that help explain those facts.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.

Education is an ongoing process. It necessarily begins in infancy and continues through adulthood, and at every stage in the process, educators are tasked with finding new ways to keep students engaged. In the classroom, the history of earth science has become a useful tool for educating students about geologic time, species’ progression and extinction, and continents’ formation. However, some educators feel that using factual information in Earth science lessons before students have studied relevant concepts may make the information harder to retain. In this essay, I will examine the benefits and drawbacks of teaching factual information before concepts and argue that while the concepts are valuable, factual information is essential in beginning the study of Earth science.

Public schools in the United States are required by law to teach Earth science, and the subject is a requirement for high school graduation. Since students must study Earth science in high school, educators face a dilemma: do they teach facts and concepts in the Earth science curriculum, or do they go in order and teach the concepts before the factual information?

The first issue to consider is how much material can be covered in a year. When teaching Earth science, educators must cover at least the following main topics: the history of earth science, plate tectonics, the geologic time scale, and the evolution of life. Each area requires at least a semester’s study, with additional time dedicated to any topics of interest. By teaching concepts before facts, educators deprive their students of the opportunity to become familiar with the material and prepare them for the factual information that follows. Without objective data, concepts will be more difficult for students to understand and leave them feeling as though they have foolishly spent learning scientific knowledge rather than learning something. Furthermore, the lack of factual information will deprive students of the opportunity to experience the awe and excitement of learning accurate information. By presenting the facts first, however, educators allow their students to experience the wonder and excitement of the points, which can only be attained through factual information.

The second issue to consider is whether or not educators should present factual information before concepts. While accurate information is essential at the beginning of a study of Earth science and is necessary to help students understand concepts, factual information alone is not enough for fully understanding a concept. Most concepts in biology are associated with observable phenomena and require a demonstration of the relevant phenomenon before a student can truly understand the concept. For example, students learning about evolution need to witness the process of natural selection to understand it fully. In addition, concepts are only understandable through real-world applications, which can only be obtained if the concepts are studied in the context of other concepts already learned. For example, the concepts of temperature, pressure, and density are interrelated and can only be understood when students have already studied the concepts of energy and motion. As such, students may understand only a vague notion of these concepts and not apply them independently of each other. To fully understand these concepts, they must first be taught factual information.

Without factual information, concepts cannot be adequately understood, and students will not retain the information. By teaching factual information first, educators allow students to understand concepts, and concepts then enable students to understand accurate information. In turn, factual information helps students gain a deeper appreciation for the process of learning and understanding, which further inspires students’ interest in science. Students would be less likely to become disinterested in the learning process if they first experienced the awe and excitement of learning factual information instead of spending their time with concepts they do not understand. Furthermore, factual information helps cement knowledge learned in previous lessons and helps students understand the subject better. By introducing concepts before accurate information, educators risk leaving students without prior knowledge of the issue, making it harder to understand new concepts.

Finally, teaching factual information first allows students to experience the thrill of learning something new. By learning real information, students enter the world of science and begin to understand the interconnectedness of phenomena. By learning concepts, students begin to experience the world in an entirely new way. By learning both, students learn how to see the world scientifically and form a desire to learn even more about the world. While factual information is invaluable in beginning the study of Earth science, it is equally important that students first experience the awe and excitement of learning a solid piece of information.