A row of cups that look like faces.
Critical ThinkingEducationPedagogy

You Cannot Not Have Conceptual Understanding

In education, we seem to take some delight in shoveling a confused mix of folksy connotations into sciencey-shelled words and phrases. Some of my colleagues would call the result edujargon, though I think that word allows us to feel too smug about our own obtuseness—as though the problem is that …

Critical ThinkingPrimary Education

About those viral Common Core problems

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably seen one of those viral posts on social media presenting a (seemingly) ridiculous common core math problem, and possibly even a frustrated parent responding with some kind of exasperated takedown. Like this one. (Also pictured) It is super tempting, especially for those of …

Critical ThinkingCultureEducationScience

Communicating science

This morning, the main site’s quickies had a link to how science stories are often illustrated with some attention grabbers that misrepresent the actual content of the study being described.  This reminded me of an incident when a new faculty member in our Communication department was introducing herself to the …

Dorchester High School Science
Critical ThinkingEducationHigher EducationPedagogy

Active learning as get-out-of-teaching?

A recent article in the Chronicle highlighted the growing shift toward student- or learner-centered teaching in higher education.  The idea is that rather than a professor lecture to a passive audience who soak up the wisdom of the sage on the stage, the class is structured around activities and discussion …

Critical ThinkingEducationLesson PlansPedagogy

Teaching the nuance of “wrong”

I teach children aged 12-15.  This borderland between childhood and adulthood is filled with both physical and mental upheavals. Mentally it is a transition from thinking in a concrete manner to thinking in a more abstract and nuanced manner.  Into this quagmire I step boldly and try to teach science …

Detail from title page of J.S. Bach's Well-tempered Clavier
Critical ThinkingCultureHigher Education

Wikipedia 1, U Chicago News Office 0.

I was browsing my news feed today when I came across the following video, posted by the University of Chicago’s News Office.   Since I’m about to get very critical, let me first talk briefly about the things Cheng does well in this video: 1) She gives a mostly understandable …

Critical ThinkingReligionScience

Can evolution and God coexist? Yes.

The Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, really exists. But what about the namesake? Well Higgs certainly exists, but does God? This, my last in a series on evolutionary science and religion, is not going to answer that to anyone’s satisfaction. Instead, it begins as an indulgence to briefly become …

Critical ThinkingScience

A Schema for Science Literacy

For those who are fans of Blooms’s Taxonomy, you may like this schema for science literacy presented by Chris Impey at the 126th Meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. This was included in a plenary session that touched on many, many aspects of science literacy and how it …

Image of a odorous house ant
Critical ThinkingPop Quiz

Pop Quiz: Gut vs Mind – What’s your woo?

My house is currently overrun with ants, tapinoma sessile to be exact.  (As I type one just ran across my desk.) My husband and I have been battling these arthropods every year since we have moved into our current home.  Every spring the ants emerge and we deploy our arsenal.  …

Critical ThinkingEducationPedagogyPop Quiz

Pop Quiz: Learner Centered In Large Classes

Normally, I teach a smaller sized class of anywhere from 27 -35 students. This summer I managed to get a larger lecture class on the order of 80 -100 students. No biggie right? I just have more papers to grade and more copies of homework and exams to get. Well …