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Science Teacher Makes Learning “Not Boring”
posted by: Cindy Omlin | February 07, 2013, 07:26 PM   


Recently, Mr. Tyler DeWitt gave an insightful talk on his experience teaching science at high schools in both the United States and South Korea. Mr. DeWitt believes that science could easily be every student's favorite class if it weren't for the long words and overly technical presentation.

DeWitt questions, "When my students were first learning science, why did they hate it?" He answers, "In the communication of science, there is an obsession with seriousness."

As a writer for an education publisher, DeWitt was cautioned against using "fun" or "engaging" language, in fear that the material would not be taken seriously. Science is a field about slime, color changes, and explosions, yet text books that seem "fun" are considered unscientific in the academic community. DeWitt says, "Science communication has taken on the tyranny of precision."

The lecture maintains that good storytelling is all about an emotional connection. "We have to convince our audience that what we are talking about matters, but just as important is knowing which details we should leave out so the main point still comes across," cited DeWitt.

DeWitt continued, "I'm not advocating a dumbing down of science, but if a young learner can't understand anything in science and learns to hate it–that will ruin their chances of success. Teachers have to be the change. There are a number of resources that can bring science to life. These resources include the MIT+K12 video outreach project, which encourages MIT students to create educational videos for students of all ages in all subjects. There is also a YouTube library of videos that teach everything from valence electrons to the chemistry of acids, all with an eye toward fun."

While this educator's talk was directed towards science teachers, it applies to teachers of all subjects. The basic premise of engaging students by making the subject matter, weaving a story with information, and leaving out extraneous details, are useful for any class. DeWitt closed with the simply yet insightful, "Just say, 'listen, let me tell you a story.'"

Click here to view the lecture.

What do you think about DeWitt's method? How do you engage your students?

Comment below.

Originally posted by Ruthie at AAE.

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