It’s the first week of September, and that means I am thinking about “Back to School“.
I can’t help it. I went back to school for 17 years as a student and 31 years as a teacher.
Here are three thoughts about education and all of those students and teachers who are going back to school with a mixture of excitement and trepidation this fall.
- Remember way back in April (it seems like 346 years ago) when parents realized they were going to have to homeschool their children for the rest of the school year? Gratitude for classroom teachers was at an all-time high. Ahhhh…the good old days!
- One of the questions I was sometimes asked about teaching was how much students have changed over the years of my long tenure.
My response was usually this: students didn’t change all that much. Parents? They changed.
One of the biggest changes I saw during my time as a teacher was in parenting styles. Parents began to believe that if their children won accolades at school, it was a feather in the parents’ caps.
Conversely, they felt threatened if their children failed in some way. If they cheated on a test, for example, or didn’t hand in assignments, as if it was a personal failure on the parents’ part.
The children became an extension of the parents’ ego.
Students, therefore, were not allowed to make mistakes in a low-key, forgiving environment, a monumental loss.
- “Truth is eternal. Knowledge is changeable. It is disastrous to confuse them.” – Madeleine L’Engle
As a science teacher, I felt it was especially important to illustrate the differences between truth and knowledge.
It is actually a cornerstone of the scientific method.Next, Ernest Rutherford and Neils Bohr posited that atoms are like our solar system, with tiny electrons, analogous to planets, orbiting the nucleus, which was like our sun.
A truth is something that will never change, something we know for sure.
Matter is made up of atoms, gravity is the force of attraction between two objects with mass, organisms change over time in response to stimuli from their environment. These are truths.
Our knowledge about how these truths work, however, has changed a lot over the years.
At one point, for example, we believed atoms were smooth and round, indivisible like little billiard balls. Then J.J. Thompson discovered electrons, and we never thought of atoms in the same way again.
Finally, in 1926 Erwin Schroedinger and others devised the quantum model of the atom, which we still use today, where the strict demarcation between matter and energy apparently disappears.
Our knowledge about atoms has evolved, but the truth has not changed.
It’s important to know the difference. In science and in other areas of our lives too.
Truth is powerful, fundamental.
We should search relentlessly for the truth, then follow where it leads.
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. – John 8:32
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