Tuesday, June 07, 2016

When heroism doesn't help

Our instincts as science teachers is to celebrate our rock stars of science. Physics teachers shine a spotlight on Galileo, Einstein, Newton, Faraday among others. We praise their discoveries and praise the advancements they made for our understanding of the universe. We want our students to consider individuals who invented calculus or connected electricity and magnetism as nearly as important as a Kardashian. Hope springs eternal.

We are not going to stop doing this. Nor are my selfies with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye coming down any time soon. However,...
Researchers found that students perform better in science where they read stories about how famous scientists struggled rather than when they read stories about what those scientists achieved.
The story from Shankar Vedantham's "Hidden Brain" ran this morning on Morning Edition and can be found on NPR.org.

It is a rare person for whom math and physics are easy subjects. Those who have achieved great accomplishments in those fields are not necessarily fundamentally different from anyone else. What might set them apart is their response to the challenge. Many see a challenge and choose not to engage. They looked at the daunting obstacles and directed their mortal abilities toward overcoming them. They were not genetically predisposed toward genius. They saw the mystery and believed it could be unraveled.

1 comment:

cskesler said...

Good point – it's one reason that Faraday is a favorite of mine to hold up.