Why learn science if you don't want to be a scientist?
A child asked me why he was learning a physics equation. He was very direct and said:
‘Apart from in the content of tutorials, do you ever use this stuff in every day life?’
I was honest and agreed that in the majority I didn’t use the content.
So how do you handle this question when you agree from the off with what the student is saying? Well the catch is that I didn’t. I agreed I didn’t use this specific content but I disagreed that the content is all that I learnt when I finally understood this equation years ago.
This is what I feel I learned from understanding that equation:
- Discipline when I didn’t convince myself I could learn it just as well in the garden;
- Confidence that I could tackle the next equation on my list now I understood this one;
- Time management as I had half an hour till dinner;
- Teaching skills as I knew how I understood it so I could now explain it to and teach someone else;
- Distraction avoidance as I was trying to work amongst noise in the house;
- Why we are not at the center of the universe as this particular equation explained the attraction of gravity;
- And finally…the equation itself…
If he had asked me if I used any of these points in my day to day life I would say ‘yes’. There isn’t an hour in each of my days that I don’t benefit from that half an hour years ago. Lots of those half an hours have made me into the person that I am to day and have taught me that education is a privilege I could have just as easily not had the benefit of.
If you ever get asked
'why do I need to learn this?'
by your child, student tutee or even yourself when you are learning something new, remember the content is just a tiny part of the step they or you have just made.