Last week, when I was at the annual conference of the Science Teachers Association of Ontario, I attended a luncheon sponsored by Smarter Science. I was joined at the table by a few pre-service teachers. STAO does a nice job of getting pre-service teachers out to their conference, by providing reasonable rates for them to attend. We had a few speakers give short talks about the importance of science education, and how it’s changing in profound ways. The move from memorizing content, content, content to a more balanced approach that also emphasizes skills, critical thinking and the processes of science.
During our conversation, one of the young teachers asked me how we could balance that load of content v.s. process in a working classroom. Being one to never miss an opportunity, I turned to her and asked her a question.
Me: "Let me ask you something. Tell me what you remember from your high school science classes."
Her: "I remember memorizing lots of things, and having tests on them."
Me: "Tell me one thing you memorized."
Her: "I can’t, I don’t remember them now."
Me: "Ok, then tell me what you do remember doing in science class."
Her: "I remember this field trip we took to a local forest. I remember doing this project with my friend. I remember some of the labs and things we did in class."
Me: "You’ve just answered your own question. Do that. Teach that way. Do what your students will remember, and don’t get hung up on the things that are forgettable."
I think she understood what I was getting at, but the hard part is yet to come. She has to learn to make that leap and let go of the fear of ‘not covering something’ in her class. I hope she succeeds, and I wish her the best of luck.
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