“On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
When one thinks of teaching science, one often becomes overwhelmed with the idea and responsibility of topics and the mass of information changing almost daily. Many schools today hire special science specialists creating curriculum that adds to the daily lessons about reading, writing, social studies, and math. Classroom teachers are grateful for the academic support for their students’ learning.
In today’s schools in the United States, science is often surrounded with other topics to create STEM or STEAM, in an attempt to give coherence to science topics as they are enriched by technology, engineering, and even better, the arts. When one is a lucky administrator, one is able to find a teacher who extends the science curriculum with even greater depth: to enable children to find awe in the inner workings of the scientific world. For although knowledge for knowledge’s sake is a decent goal, providing students with deep appreciation for our world is the real deal.
Classroom teachers may defer science teaching to the “expert”, losing a key opportunity to cultivate deep gratitude for our planet and all it provides for us. A well-trained science specialist can provide a strong academic core of knowledge, but it is in the elementary, day by day classroom that teachers create a caring community of learners, and it is in this environment that science education opens the heart of children.
Classroom teachers may use spontaneous moments like unexpected rain, or a bird visitor to celebrate “fascination” and “awe” of science. Students are encouraged to predict outcomes and solutions (hypotheses), to articulate misses and set-backs without judgment, and celebrate success as to process as well as outcome. Teachers model this in their individual and group conversations with children: documenting process as much as observations and outcomes in the solving of daily problems.
In my role as an educator, I am please to say how blessed I have been to observe both science specialists and classroom teachers inspire awe for children as they enrich their understanding of our world. Students raised in classrooms that inspire deep appreciation for our planet become keen evaluators of adults issues as they affect our world. There is no more important task.
If you have a story to share about a heroic act that contributes to a more life-giving reality for our country and world, please send me your words to post.