…is what we want to give our students. We should want to give our students meaningful experiences, not so that they remember us, but so that they truly learned something that will stick with them, inspire them, motivate them. They aren’t going to remember a worksheet (not saying they don’t have their place, but I’ve never heard anyone ever say, “Man, I remember my teacher gave me this great worksheet on nouns, and it was awesome!”). They are going to remember those hands-on experiences we give them. Something meaningful that ties them into the world around them.
The past couple of weeks, I’ve listened to a few people talk about meaningful experiences they had in science (no one mentioned worksheets from heaven). There was excitement in their voices when they spoke of those wonderful experiences. They talked about what they had learned and how it had sparked an interest in a certain area of science that they had never really considered before (or thought they could handle). They also spoke fondly of the teacher that provided those experiences.
Sadly, the people that I had listened to describing their meaningful science experiences, only had one or two teachers they could say gave them these fulfilling experiences. One or two, out of the 13 or more years we spend in K-12 education (preK for some). It broke my heart a bit to realize that was all most of us have been given.
There is no telling how far some people could have gone, or the directions their lives could have taken if they had been given more of these opportunities. One of these people I spoke with was my mother. She spoke excitedly about her 4th grade teacher, and all the hands-on and engaging experiences she had been given with her teacher. As we were speaking, she realized that she was surprised to have learned things about herself, such as how lab work (dissecting) didn’t gross her out. This was something that sparked an interest for her in the medical field. She had pursued that line of training once upon a time, but ended up giving up on it.
What if she had been given more of those engaging experiences than just in the 4th grade? What path(s) could that have led her down in her life? Do we want to take that chance of robbing our students of those experiences that could alter their lives in ways we can’t even imagine?
I think we could argue this point for all subject areas (the more engaging, the better for our students), but it seems that science, a truly hands-on subject, is the one that is continually getting pushed to the side. There are many reasons for this (which I’ll save for other posts), but no matter what the reasons are, this has to change. After all, our students deserve the best and brightest futures we can open up for them.