Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Driving Forces

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."

Albert Einstein
German-Swiss-American mathematical physicist, famous for his theories of relativity.

As I am sitting here tonight thinking about the world around me and the one that my children are growing up into, I wonder about what drives a person to do and be who they are? Is there some magic formula (you would think that a chemist could come up with one!) that helps determine what a person is and what motivates them? Is it genetics? Could it be just plain dumb luck? Do people decide what they are going to become? Does the world around them make the decisions? (Boy o' boy, I need to get some sleep.)

I know that there is a plan for all of us. I know that some people are motivated while others seem to not be. I think that school in general seems boring to students because they have lost a reason to be motivated. They seem to be looking for a way to find the secret easy path. (Not all of them mind you.) The question that I am really thinking about is how to motivate the ones that seem to not want to be motivated? I guess if I had the answer I would be a very rich person. Is it rewards that motivate? If so, why do grades defeat this?

If the goal of chemistry is to be a problem solving class then why are students not excited to learn about it? The world around the students is one filled with wonder and magic, I know, I see it in my daughter. I wonder how to get the students to be as excited about the stuff around them and how it all works together as my little one is. If some students are going into science and engineering because they like to look at the world around them and wonder then I guess I have done my job as a teacher. I do not think that I can get all of them to like science (that would be a Hatak utopia!) but just a few of them. What would it be like if one of the students that I have in class has the cure for cancer in them? or the details for space travel? or how to make the fields produce enough food to feed all who are in need? and I did not do my best to get them excited about science? I hear that the number of students majoring in science and engineering is lowest it has been in decades! Do they not want to work to find answers? Do they not wonder? How do I get these "lost" scientists interested?

I think that what we are doing as a group and with the new methods that I am trying at least I am doing something to reach this generation. I hope that I do not forget that the material is not nearly as important as the method of learning and self-motivation that comes from school.

"Whoso neglects learning in his youth, Loses the past and is dead for the future."
Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC), Phrixus


annes said...

"I hope that I do not forget that the material is not nearly as important as the method of learning and self-motivation that comes from school."

I have been reflecting on this same idea trying ot get my regular freshman to ask better questions about their reading. It doesn't matter what they are reading but that they are making connections to it and pondering the possibilities. I am sure when you are looking at Meghan, she is for sure considering all the possibilities of the world around her and making connections. How cna we continue to foster that love, that curiosity to inspire the kid in your chem class to cure cancer, for the kid in the Enlgish class to write the next great novel. We are getting there. We just need to keep remembering what made us become great (I know I am bold here) questioners and ponderers.

Meyer said...

I caught myself last week telling Adam "Enough with the questions." Great. I just stunted his intellectual curiosity. And now as teachers, we try to recover it.