My Philosophy of Education

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”
            Albert Einstein

“Learning” is one of the most overused and misused words in school today. Many of the things that we have traditionally said our students are learning (and that we are teaching) are not really being learned; but merely memorized for a short period of time. These meaningless bits of unrelated information are only useful for passing the next test so that a good grade can be achieved; students rarely retain this information for more than a few weeks.

“We see only what we know”
            Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I am not interested in covering information that students will remember for a matter of days. I am interested in engaging students in meaningful learning – learning that changes the way they “see” the world and learning that empowers them to think independently. If students do not understand the big ideas of my class years later and cannot apply them to their life, then I have failed at my job. Learning doesn’t take place in a single class period, but develops over the course of a lifetime. Meaningful learning takes a lot of purposeful effort – my job is to create an environment that is stimulating, motivating, and challenging, while the role of the student is to get engaged in class, learn to manage the frustrations that are part of the learning process, and realize that most things that are meaningful are not easy to achieve.

“A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary”
            Thomas Carruthers

Some of my goals are to motivate, develop skills, and develop the ability to self-assess these skills – these are the seeds to life-long learning. The most successful people are the ones who can assess situations for themselves and take actions as they see appropriate. Teaching is not telling – you have many resources at your disposal to tell you all kinds of information. This course is designed to help you learn to take in all that information, analyze it, and make decisions based on logical reasoning. In this class you will be challenged to develop logical patterns of evidence to support your ideas and answer the question “how do you know?” In order to do this you must be willing to ask questions, design experiments to answer these questions if answers are not available, and evaluate the outcomes of your experiments to determine to what degree your question was answered. In order to be successful at this you must be self-assessing yourself on a daily basis and you must be willing to persevere through the frustration that occurs when answers are not immediately clear.

“Facts are not science - as the dictionary is not literature”
            Martin H. Fischer

In order to deeply understand the big ideas in science you must first begin to understand what science is and how we “know” something in science – you will be expected to learn as much about the nature of science as you will about this particular discipline of science. In order to begin to understand these ideas you must be involved in the process of science – these experiences will most likely be very different from your previous experiences in science – we will not merely be following steps on a sheet when doing science (we are not baking cakes), unless we need to perform a standard protocol in order to setup an experiment (just as scientists would).

This will be a challenging course for you and you will probably experience many things that you have not experienced in a science class before. You will be frustrated at some point in time – I encourage you to see these as opportunities for learning to occur. Remember that I have worked hard and will continue to work hard throughout this school year to develop this course into the best learning experience for you. Remember that I care about you as a person and that is why I became a teacher. If you have any problems, concerns, thoughts, etc. please meet with me sometime and I will be happy to listen and try to help with the situation.