Michael Doyle (Science Teacher) inspired this post with his post “If Randall Munroe were Secretary of Education” If you don’t know who Randall Munroe is, he is the creator of the brilliant web comic xkcd.
The crux of Michael’s post:
“It’s…complicated. And we need to move on” kills inquiry, kills science, but apparently not science education.
In the quest for rich inquiry (easier said than done), this is a core goal. Student questions and curiosity must drive the curriculum awhenever possible.
When I, or the state standards, drive the curriculum train with what we think is important, engagement is a fickle mistress. Often, key topics bore many (most?) students to tears. Sometimes, students are hooked by topics I expect to incite mutinous apathy.
I’m getting better at knowing the difference but it varies dramatically from student to student, group to group, year to year. Every time I think I’ve found a topic that kids love or a method that keeps them engaged, I’m brought back to earth by a group (or a vocal minority) that reminds me I don’t have all the answers.
Better to let student interest drive the train, methinks.