As an introductory-level college biology instructor, I'm seeing way too many students coming into my classroom lacking a basic understanding of the scientific method - i.e. how do scientists make the discoveries versus what is established scientific knowledge. For too long, curriculum has focused on what I like to call "biology history" as opposed to "doing biology." Yes, you need to know a good amount of the "history" to get to the bleeding edge, but the scientific process can and should be integrated all along the way. There is hope that things are changing (Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action).
“Appreciating the scientific process can be even more important than knowing scientific facts. People often encounter claims that something is scientifically known. If they understand how science generates and assesses evidence bearing on these claims, they possess analytical methods and critical thinking skills that are relevant to a wide variety of facts and concepts and can be used in a wide variety of contexts.”
-National Science Foundation, Science and Technology Indicators, 2008.In other words, teach a man to fish instead of giving him a fish. There is just too much new knowledge being generated for any human to keep up. I strongly believe that an understanding of the scientific method begins many, many, MANY years before getting into undergraduate level science courses. It begins in childhood. I have to say, I'm encouraged by what I'm seeing in children's programming - in one of JR's favorite shows, The Dinosaur Train on PBS, one of the characters, Buddy, routinely shouts, "I have a hypothesis!" As a result, JR routinely goes around the house shouting, "I have a hypothesis!" (Hypothesis = educated guess to explain observation). Sweet, beautiful music to this Mom's (and Dad's!) ears. The seeds of scientific understanding are being planted.