Why do I teach?

Today I’m going to share a recent anecdote from a lesson in a new topic I’m trialing in my junior science class. The topic is referred to as the Pūtaiao Passion Project and has the aim of showing students that there is science everywhere around us.

The first couple of lessons of the topic are just getting students to narrow in on what they are interested in from their everyday hobbies, activities and interests, then identifying what they know and don’t know about them. Hopefully the students will realise there is a gap in their knowledge about something that they are really interested in and this will lead them to wanting to know more about it. At first they may not realise its a science what they want to find out about, so that is my next step: I have a conference with them.

It was at one of these conferences where a student was telling me about how they wanted to compare today’s culture with the culture that their parents grew up in. This led to a discussion about what angle they were looking at (TV culture) and how they might gather their data (surveying their parents and their parent’s friends). The student asked how that related to science and I was able to introduce them to anthropology. I was asked how to say ‘anthropology’ and when the student got back to their seat I heard them say to their friend, ‘I’m studying anthropology!’ with an excited and impressed voice.

That is one of the reasons why I’m a teacher and I love teaching science. Everyone can relate to science in one form or another, and I want to allow my students to be empowered to use the tools of scientific inquiry and critical thinking. By introducing that one student to anthropology I hope I have inspired passion in them. Based on the direction they have taken the investigation since the conference, I reckon that it has worked. It has been really interesting to follow their progress, and the fact that they have been trying to get their bookwork done quickly in class so that they can use the rest of the time meant to be spent on those exercises to get a bit more done on their project seems to attest to that. What better evidence is there that this student is now a bit more passionate about science than that?

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