Stephanie Grant 2006-2007
Volume 38 • 5 June 2007 President's Message
June is here and this is my last message to you as the President. It has been an interesting and busy year with 10 Executive meetings and four Board meetings. I would like to thank the members of both groups for their attendance (sometimes endurance), input and support. Dennis Paré will be taking the helm in September and is currently seeking new faces to replace those who are leaving the infrastructure. If you have the time and the desire to get involved with our volunteer-based association, that not only produces an excellent conference but also workshops, resources and curriculum support for K–12 teachers, please consider getting involved in STAO. It is of course, a most impressive addition to one’s CV! This organization has been in existence for over a hundred years and I have no doubt that it will continue to grow and service teachers for many more years to come, with the support of new members and of those who volunteer their time and talents to serve on one of the various committees.
Speaking of change, how about our new curriculum? The feedback for the grade 11 and 12 courses has just been collected. How will this analysis impact the 3M and 4M courses? The elementary curriculum will be released in the fall with the rest of the school year open to “testing” (dabbling) in the classrooms. My interest lies in the revisions of the grade 9 and 10 courses. Are they really going to have a second overhaul based on the analysis of the December feedback? The Motion unit is gone after I finally figured out (in 3 years) how to help them understand the concepts! However, I do love Optics and it is still familiar from OSIS days…. for those of you that have been teaching for at least 10 years. Now where did I store that bag of tricks?! However, the point I wanted to make was not what we teach but HOW we teach the curriculum, regardless of the content.
Recently, at our last board meeting, we had a presentation from Thomson Nelson on the release of a new resource called Science Education: A Summary of Research, Theories and Practice – a Canadian Perspective. As I listened to the information on how science education is focussing on scientific literacy through constructivism and experiential learning, one point jumped out at me and I quote, from page 3: “It has been said that science is a highly respected subject but not much loved.” How true it is today! I conduct a little introductory survey with my grade 10 students at the beginning of the course. Not even 20% predict a future in this area, based on the fact that they do “not love” the subject.
I then watched an interview between Steve Paikin (on TVO’s The Agenda) and Natalie Angier on her newest book The Canon and she was basically saying the same thing! I would like to share a quote from her book, which I went out purchased... “Science is not a body of facts. Science is a state of mind. It is a way of viewing the world, of facing reality square on but taking nothing on its face. It is about attacking a problem with the most manicured of claws and taking it down to sensible, edible pieces... What often is missing [in the teaching of science] is the idea of critical thinking, how you assess which ideas are reasonable and which are not.” Food for thought! The good news is that there is time to figure out how to make this happen in your classroom with the new 2008 curriculum. We all want our students to be successful, not only in our class but as informed citizens in the global community. It is our job as teachers of the science curriculum to give them the skills to cope with this responsibility. Here’s to the next generation of life long learners.