Monday, October 27, 2008

How Science is Taught

In between classes I was lounging around near my colleges choral/theatre (as a useless aside, why do so many people insist on spelling it theater, that always upsets me) department when I overheard that some of the people there were having difficulty with their biology work. Being a bio tutor I offered my aid after my next class, an offer this, and two other individuals, enthusiastically accepted. So after my next class class ended, I sat down with them and ran them through the information they needed.

Normally such a mundane event would not be worth writing over, and this one is not much different, I was just using it as a segue to a different point. The point being that our centers for education really need to learn how to teach science. Granted there are some wonderful science educators out there, but not enough.

The sciences are far too often taught as a series of facts strung together that one needs to simply memorize. That is bloody boring and makes people hate science. When I am teaching science, I get really into it. I make connections to my students lives or I show them what the concept means in the grand scheme. I want to see the individual I am teaching have a moment where things not only click into place, but they see, just for a moment, things from my perspective. When I witness the 'that is awesome' moment I know that I have done my job.

While I realize that this is guaranteed to be more difficult with a large class, you would think one would see some level of it more frequently. But you don't (or at least I do not). I see English classes taught with more vigor (not that there is anything wrong with English classes, any subject should be taught with passion) then nearly every science ever is. Granted there is still the occasional 'mad scientist' style teacher, but not enough.

The sciences can be the most mind blowing set of subjects one could ever hope to study, or they can be reminiscent of a scene from 'Faris Buellers Day Off'. If you are familiar with the sciences and love what they have to offer, don't sit quiet about it. If you can interject your love into it, you can make others love it as well. Seeing that awe in others can be incredibly rewarding.

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1 comment:

Giovanna Ghio said...

I completely agree with you. Although I graduated with a Chem BA, I've transitioned into the design field. Because of my love for and struggle with science, I've focused my MA thesis on the creation of an online interactive science lesson for fifth graders.

What I've learned, and knew (from my own struggle through undergrad), just as you know, relating science to students lives makes SUCH a HUGE difference in their engagement level. By making it real world they can get to the "ah ha!" point which opens their eyes to the world and how it works.

In a class I'm observing, I witnessed the most disruptive and unengaged student suddenly become the most enthusiastic (with hand up in the air to answer questions) after participating in a small informal discussion that related solar events to volcanic activities on earth. Granted, the analogy may be tenuous, but it got him engaged and motivated.

Good luck, and I hope that there are many more of us out there working to make science fun to the next gen. They're going to need to know it in order to compete globally.