As soon as I got back home, safe and complete fortunately after another trip with Gaby and her Super Prius, I sent a message to whom so many advices had given me and my direct question was: how can I teach science to children?
Her answer made me almost fell from the chair even if I I was sitting on the bed:
- Dear David, I think that your question is a little more complex, because I believe that at this age, you should not teach science to children, but how love the science.
In the following message I asked her phone number because for a moment I had a feeling that this talk was going to take me several hours... when I replied, I asked her to explain me that in a easy way because my head couldn’t understand that statement.
- David, you should not look children as an empty bucket that you going to depositing knowledge, if you think that pouring water to a plant makes it bloom, just because you are giving enough sun and land, you will find that eventually your plant won’t grow anymore. Children are scientists by nature, they have a process that, at some point in our school life, we lose and this is the urgent need to ask about the world.
Children ask innocently because they want to know, an adult asks to know if you know. I have an example of this: When you were here, while I was giving you the explanation, you didn’t ask anything. Maybe you were thinking that your questions could be silly or wrong, but if you come tomorrow with your children your task will be to observe the attitude of them and count the number of questions they will make, and at the same time you should see adults accompanying them and then we can discuss your results.
I believe that children will have more questions than adults, that is my hypothesis.
Can I teach science if I ask them all plant the same type seed and see it grow?
- That is an option, but you'll be falling into the myth that all scientists do the same thing and even in science there are different jobs, there are those who do basic research with the kinds of questions that save lives, sold millions of dollars in the pharmaceutical industry or respond to questions about the universe.
Then there is another group of people who translate this and explain it in more understandable words and finally are those who apply all that knowledge in a less flamboyant way.
It is currently scientifically educated citizens who are people who love science but are not scientists, can be either journalists or just people who understand and give conferences about science.
At the same time, in science there are experts to ask, or to do mathematical analysis, others write and others may report their findings in a simple way for people, so if you ask everyone to do the same, are focusing only on a part of the scientific work.
I suggest that you ask children different types of seeds, and they decide who wants to sow seeds and care for it, others can make comments that includes measuring the growth of the plant every day, others may take photographs to keep a visual record, others can write about what they find, and some may finally provide lectures about the experience.
You may have teams where children decide what they like the most and thus everyone can understand that there are different facets of being a scientist, similar the work you did with your play, you had writers, stylist, singers, actors and each found his talent, because in science is the same.
What happens if the plant does not grow? Should I give Fs to the entire team?
-Dear David!, YOU are talking as teacher already!!... But that’s what makes us hate science!. There is no reason to be so violent with the children, because science will learn from both the successes and errors!.
If a plant grows, being that they are on the lookout for everything, the children will learn that there are four variables: type of seed, amount, and type of land, amount of water and light. Some seeds will grow faster than others, for example my cantaloupes sprouted before than hibiscus seeds, and some seeds need more water than others, some prefer the morning light and to some others it’s better the light at noon. The children can see the differences and learn from them.
If the plant dies they will begin to wonder what did go wrong?, Perhaps more light was needed; perhaps I should not put juice of orange juice instead water. Next time I'll put more seeds instead of just one...
Am I dumb or I just feel so?
-None of that, you're a teacher who learns and who will be able to teach the children.
Will I see you tomorrow afternoon?
When I hung up, I felt that I just sow the seeds of curiosity and research that never grew on me, but it scared me to think that in a few years other teachers of children were going to kill that like if they are killing an Ant...
I finished replying some email that included several of my friends who asked me if I liked to exercise my authority over children and gave me tips on how keep them quiet in class. If that was to become a teacher, I understood why I hated school so much.
Querido David, yo creo que tu pregunta es un poco más compleja, pues creo que a esta edad a los niños no se les debería enseñar ciencia, sino como amar la ciencia.