One of my students happens to be a skilled baker. She made a special History of Science pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Seriously? When was the last time you saw a pumpkin pie with an image of Tycho Brahe on it? My students are great.
Here is where I think aloud about teaching, my goals in the classroom, the challenges of meeting those goals, and the techniques I use to achieve those goals. These posts will include ruminations on pedagogy, flights of field-trip fancy, and assessment woes.
Explaining A Good Question
My experiment in teaching students to ask questions has run headlong into yet another hurdle. Previously I had been persuaded that the students would benefit from an example, so I brought in an old book and tried to show them how I would formulate some questions as I looked at and thought about the book. […]
Previous posts have reflected on the lack of curiosity amongst students in the history of science and how we might address the issue by modeling curiosity. Subsequent conversation and comments to the first post prompted me to take my copy of Thomas Browne, Religio medici (London: J. Torbuck, 1736) into class and try to model […]
In a previous post I tried to present an assignment in my history of the scientific revolution class that will give the students a chance to work closely with a primary source. I also pointed to the difficulties I have encountered getting the students to be curious about those sources (see the reposted Can I […]
How Can I Teach Curiosity?
In my history of the scientific revolution course I have devised an assignment that asks the students to select, describe, and analyze a primary source from our (Haverford’s or Bryn Mawr’s) special collections. The book, pamphlet, or letter has to have been written/published during the period covered in the course—roughly 1500 to 1700—and has to […]
Each time I teach Collecting Nature & Displaying Authority we take three field trips to local museums. Our first outing took us to the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Megan, one of the Visitor Services Assistants, led us around on an informative tour and engaging tour of the permanent exhibition, Making Modernity. The students were pensive and […]
The MORU as Precursor to the MOOC
MOOCs are all the rage right now—academics generally upset or unimpressed and disruptors generally optimistic. What intrigues me is how familiar the kook-aid (sorry, typo) Kool-aid tastes. The latest technology becomes the mechanism to democratize learning, to bring the best college and university lectures to the underprivileged, and to expand learning to hundreds of thousands […]
STS in the Liberal Arts, A Workshop
In April I am participating in “Science and Technology Studies (STS) in the Liberal Arts,” a conference on the role, if any, of STS in an undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. While some of the themes are pragmatic, the goal of the conference is to bring together faculty from liberal arts colleges across the country to […]
In late 1951 Bertrand Russell composed “A Liberal Decalogue” in response to growing fanaticism. We would all do well to recall daily Russell’s ten commandments for the teacher: Do not feel absolutely certain of anything. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light. […]
The Importance of Style
Without further comment: The American university teacher who gives honor grades to students who have not yet learned to write English, for industrious compilations of facts or feats of memory, is wanting in professional pride or competence. Samuel E. Morison, History as a Literary Art (1946), 3.