March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Forward Looking Retrospective

Posted: Saturday, September 1st, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

Every year, about mid August, I start to get this funny, unsettled feeling. As I drive around town, I see more and more cars in school parking lots, lawns around school get mowed more regularly, large piles of boxes appear by the front doors of schools, and the lights at the local football stadium are on late in the evening. Like the first leaves in spring or the smell of freshly mowed grass on a warm summer day, these images of the reopening of schools signal a start of yet another school year.  These are inspiring to me and the excitement and anticipation that comes with every new school year are the feelings I look forward to and cherish.

After 37 first days of school, you would think I would get used to this but, alas, I have not. Each year, I rethink past lessons asking myself how I might make them a little better. How can I relate concepts to my students’ lives, and how can I inspire students to push themselves to new heights and new successes? These are questions that teachers everywhere share. Despite what some may perceive, we are not factory workers doing the same thing year after year. We don’t reuse the same lessons we used five years ago, and we can’t use the same examples we have used in the past. Just as the recent Mars landing brought back the joy I felt when I watched the Eagle land on the moon, I also realized that most of my students had not even been born in 1969. Since that time, entire space programs have been launched and retired and most students carry around more computing power in their cell phones than was available to the astronauts that landed on the moon. Diseases that were unknown when I started teaching have ravaged millions of lives but are now readily (but perhaps only temporarily) controlled through drugs or therapies that have been developed by the very same people I may have taught as 7th graders in my first year of teaching.

It is not just the content of science that has changed. The entire culture and environment of teaching has changed and yet our dedication to inspiring our students to be successful remains the same. We are preparing them to take their places in a society that is significantly different than that of their parents, but we are also preparing them to be successful in a society that will be significantly different than that of their children. To say that change is inevitable is almost cliché. A better view would be to say that to survive we must embrace the fact that change will happen and prepare our students to deal with those changes. We can no longer rest on the notion that possessing scientific knowledge is the key to success, but rather, must equip our students with the tools, skills, knowledge, and habits of mind to react appropriately to change, and to embrace and make that the most of opportunities that changes bring.

As I have said in previous editions of California Classroom Science, we are entering a period of rapid change in science education. Standards, assessments, technology, and even the content of science will be changing rapidly in the coming year. As we begin this new academic year, I challenge you to rethink the things you do each day. Begin to engage in the conversations surrounding the metamorphosis of science education as we have done it for fifteen years, into a science education that prepares our students for college and careers, to enter a more technologically dependent world, and to find solutions to questions not yet asked using tools not yet developed.

As you start back to school or embark on a new career as a science teacher, I would like to wish a successful start to the new year, a renewed energy to champion the importance of science education for all students, and the satisfaction to know that what you do makes a difference.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

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For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

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CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.