Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Holy curiosity of inquiry"

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.

Albert Einstein

One of the primary duties of any teacher, but particularly a science teacher, is to keep curiosity alive.

One of the primary duties of any public school teacher is to complete the state mandated curriculum in the limited amount of time given.

We teach science as we would teach wizardry, if magic existed. Memorize the spells, wave your beakers just so, and miracles happen. Magic does not exist, and we should stop teaching as though it does.

Einstein uses "holy" to describe curiosity. It is our curiosity, not our techniques, that drives thinking.


John Spencer said...

Ah, but if magic did exist, I would still not have kids memorizing spells. I'd follow Harry's example of when they had to hide out. They experienced the magic. They explored. Yes, Harry was their leader, but no one was trying to pass a test.

Perhaps I'm being picky there, but that particular Harry Potter book (yes, a bit embaressing, but I read them all) struck a chord with me about how we educate children.

Kelly said...

You both spook me. I was thinking about magic and science all day today. Scary.

Jennifer Beza, M.S. Ed. said...

I appreciate the standards of learning as a guide. However, I think the time for exploring the magic of science has been sorely neglected in many classrooms so we can cram for the big test.

Let our kids inquire and explore rather than always memorize and parrot back.

Leslie said...

From today's NYT:

"What we need to do is find a new way to teach the spirit of physics. What we do now is water down what professional physicists do and make it into this dry puzzle-solving thing with little pictures of pulleys and things like that. We ought to teach kids more about the Big Bang and entropy and particles. Every high school graduate should know that everything in the universe is made of a handful of particles. That’s not a hard thing to know. But that’s not what’s emphasized.

Yes, there is a quantitative aspect to science that should not be denied, but it can be in the service of interesting rather than boring problems. Ten years after high school, most students are not going to solve a problem with pulleys and levers. But they still might want to know about the expansion of the universe and about cool things in atomic physics and lasers — which they’ll find interesting and fun."

Leslie said...

'Cause I didn't do the linky thing right, here's the title of the article:

A Conversation With Sean Carroll (the Physicist)
Sean Carroll Talks School Science and Time Travel

Kelly said...

Doyle, thought you'd dig this:

Now if we could only do this for all kids...

Kathryn J said...

This post struck a nerve as I chafe against the boundaries and requirements of the state and local curriculum. Where is the time to explore what might be relevant or intriguing? My students study earthquakes and volcanoes but not local geological features. They spend time on the Periodic Table of Elements but have no time for the grand story that is the history of Chemistry. We must rush on.

Those are some of the things that I'd like to teach. What they really need is time to explore their own wondering!