Want To Give Science A Boost? Don't Take It So Seriously, says Former Teacher

LEARNING SCIENCE(S): "If a young learner thinks that all viruses have DNA, that's not going to ruin their chances of success in science. But if a young learner can't understand anything in science, and learns to hate it... that will ruin their chances of success." Those poignant words come from former high school science teacher and current MIT Microbiology Ph.D student, Tyler DeWitt, who argues in this TEDx talk that high school science textbooks' infatuation with technically precise presentations is destroying students' interest in science. By contrast, in his classroom, DeWitt opts instead for riveting stories of "smug virus" and "secret agent virus" (metaphors for lytic and lysogenic viruses). He isn't arguing for less scientific rigor--just less stuffiness. He wants to reduce all that "seriousness" in scientific explanations, as it tends to alienate people before it educates anyone. That distinction is eerily similar to the disconnect that persists between educational research and practice: There's no need to know exactly when, where, and how learning occurs, but a better understanding (with a few hiccups here and there) will likely improve the entire lot.

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