Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

Re: [Phys-l] Premed Requirements Commentary

It is never inappropriate to examine our curriculum or our expectations. Do we teach what we teach because we have always done so? Because it is what we were taught? Because we genuinely believe that students will benefit from a thorough understanding of the topic in question? If our decisions are based solely on the first two choices, we must re-evaluate.

We must also bear in mind that we do not know what of, or how, the understanding we manage to impart will be applied. If we did, we would simply teach each student exactly to her or his future needs. As it is, we strive to ensure that students have the fullest opportunity to use their understanding of process and detail; to do anything less would be to cheat our charges. There is little that I have studied that has not been incorporated into my teaching and further learning, even though neither I nor anyone else could state (then or now) exactly what, or how.

To this end, then, we should not limit education to the merely practical. Competence in a field (even to the level of "craftsmanship") may be adequate for some, but innovation will be hampered if knowledge is not supported by a fundamental understanding of the science. Doctors who learned advanced physics and chemistry invented the machinery that allowed my daughter, born fourteen weeks premature, to survive. Those who can operate it were essential, as well, but without the advances allowed by application of scientific knowledge, Katie and many others would not be here.

--Daniel Price, Columbine High School