I remember a pivotal experience in my professional development. In the late 80’s I attended a “Minnesota Educational Effectiveness Program (MEEP)” institute in which Seymour Papert delivered the keynote address. Papert, an MIT professor/scientist and creator of Logo computer language, spoke of the emerging power of technology as an instructional tool in the classroom. An eccentric man with a brilliant genius stood in front of us with hair disheveled and cardigan sweater misbuttoned. While I sat quietly mesmerized, my colleagues only seeing the surface all got up and left.
Yes, Papert spoke of technology, but beyond technology his talk was about the core of humanity – that powerful drive to create and learn. Returning home, I made application to graduate school in curriculum and instruction: learning technology. Without that talk by a disheveled old man, I don’t believe I would be where I am today.
OK, now to the point. Tonight was our last night of our elementary science methods class. As we wrapped up our semester by sharing key take aways, it struck me that while the class was titled science methods, and we did indeed, explore the world of science education, a broader and more powerful focus that emerged was effective instruction within a commitment to student centered learning. The messages students were sharing included: the importance of leading with questions; the power of redirecting student questions back to their own quest to learn; listening to students’ words and actions; making thinking public; supporting learning with writing; building experiences with realia; and having fun. These are good messages. Effective learning is independent of the discipline permeating all we should be doing.
Thanks to a great group of students for another full and rich semester.