Friday, September 5, 2008

Are You Sure You Aren't a Science Teacher?

Photo by Lucy Nieto
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Have you been fooling yourself into thinking that you are NOT a Science teacher? Hmm! What is a common response to this question: "Do you teach Science?" No, I don't  teach Science, I don't even like Science.

Often, we are so locked into our 20th century INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTIONary mindset, that we think we ONLY teach History, Language Arts, PE or other separate topic. I think it is more prudent, as we move away from the ASSEMBLY LINE mindset, to think of  ourselves as TEACHERS of children, not TEACHERS of a topic.

For instance, how can one teach of the end of the Dark Ages in Europe (the unkown times), without mentioning the pivotal role played by the rapid spread of one of the most famous of all pandemics (or series of pandemics) the bubonic plague, the Black Death? So, History teachers ARE Science teachers after all. That is just ONE example.

A very popular history book of recent times is Guns, Germs and Steel. It tells the story of the past 13,000 years as it references the introduction of steel and guns as well as the well documented use of germ warfare by warring factions.

In Physical Education, the teacher is concerned with the improvement of the overall physical fitness of their students. When their students are fit, they think better, play more actively and enjoy life more. I wonder? Do PE  teachers teach about nutrition, healthy habits, muscle control, rules for games, etc? Yup, PE teachers are science teachers too.

There is not one ASSEMBLY LINE strand of education, and all the interactive, symbiotic education of the 21st Century includes aspects of science. Therefore, every teacher is a science teacher, we just haven't moved ourselves off the ASSEMBLY LINE and into the 21st Century yet.

I think you will agree that every teacher is a science teacher, and the corollary also must be true.
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Monika said...

Hear, Hear! I have been saying this for years. My own personal survey is asking science teachers what their profession is and usually get one of two answers:"I am a teacher." or "I am a science teacher." Those that usually answer the latter are the more silo-style of teachers.

samccoy said...

Hee! Love that term "silo-style of teacher", and it perfectly fits in the old assembly line teaching mode. Thanks!

Simon Brown said...

My job as a TAFE teacher locks me into a specialist subject area bounded by the stone industry. But I also love to include geology, architecture, sculpture, history and mathematics in my lessons.
I believe that it is important to broaden my students' outlooks to learn skills useful to future employers, and building on their passion for all things stone is a useful way to re-introduce topics - such as science - that they probably rejected at school.

samccoy said...

Yes, that is exactly my point. You of all people definitely know what it is to pull the various threads of the tapestry of learning together.

I am thinking of that video of your mentor and the one of the students making those intricate stone carvings. There is history there, especially the traditions passed down through the centuries.

Also, culture knowledge is important because I remember them mentioning that one town always had lots of information etched on the tombstones.

In your profession, you also have a grand opportunity to reignite the natural love of learning that all people have. It seems to me that people who are "good with their hands" are given the short shift in their earlier years by the insistence of schools passing on this assembly line learning.

Many of these young people HATE school, especially subjects that were poorly taught, such as math & science, but you get the chance to put these subjects in context of real world experience. What they learn becomes "easier", as they learn by doing.

You must know geology, otherwise you might select low quality, easily eroded rock which would be ruinous. This is just another example of a few of the threads that pull our knowledge together into a coherent package we can use in the real world.

It is this interplay of learning in various modes from part-to-whole through to whole-to-part that makes deep learning possible.

Tim (@Twalk) Walker said...

Good post. I didn't major or minor in science, but I'm constantly giving science lessons to my kids. These lessons extend far beyond talking about animals, plants, the stars, etc. -- they reach into the *mindset* we use to figure things out: How does that work? What makes it do that? How do we know? What could you do to find out? And so on.

The point is to bring the kids -- and I could be talking about my own elementary-age children or my college history students -- into the sort of *inquiring* mindset that keeps them asking questions, seeking more information, and testing their assumptions.

Sheryl said...

Tim, thanks for the validating comments. whether we are elementary students, college students or adults, I agree "...the inquiring mind" is key to learning.

It seems to me, that people who are engaged in learning are inquiring. I think their lives are meaningful, pleasant and long-lasting.

I always enjoy reading your work. Thanks! I think many people would agree that we are all science teachers. We are all history teachers. We are all teachers.