Yesterday I had the privilege and the pleasure of teaching cosmology to some of the A-Level Physics students at the Maria Fidelis Convent School in London, where they are justly proud of their science curriculum.
Despite the weird (to me) habit of calling all the adults “Sir” or “Miss” and the very Catholic (but not catholic!) school motto, “Growing together though Christ with courage confidence and dignity” it was great to see a group of smart and motivated students who seemed more than happy to learn and to think. I admit to being chagrined to remember that, well, appearances can be deceiving: the two boys in the class rolled in late, having come from lessons a few blocks away, and gave a little stick to their teacher when she chided them for it. Uh oh, I thought, this could be a tough crowd. But I should have remembered (having been one) that all adolescent males look like disaffected slackers no matter what’s going on underneath. Once we started actually talking about astrophysics and cosmology, their minds were engaged, despite their hoodies and their slouches. The girls were slightly harder to bring out of their shells, but they too were happy to participate and, indeed, to show off what they could do.
So thanks to all of the students (even if I didn’t teach them to make salad), to their teacher, Miss Innocent Mutumba, and to everyone else that I met there.
Any good suggestions for or case studies of using blogs as part of teaching?
The obvious possibilities: I could blog all of my notes (although I’m not actually teaching any lecture courses this year). But that’s just using a slightly different medium for an old task (and it’s hard to translate math into html!). Or the students could blog theirs -- I suppose that would count as a sort of “User-Generated Content”...
More ideas welcome -- from students and teachers!
Regular readers may have noted a slackening of my posting pace over the last couple of weeks. For the first time in life, I'm earning my keep doing what most people think a "University Lecturer" (a.k.a. "College Professor" in the US) gets paid to do: teaching (in fact, most of our professional stature and advancement is based upon research, but that's another story).
So far I've taught a few sessions of our first-year ("freshman") Seminars in Communication and Teamwork -- it's a joy to see these exciting and excited students thinking, speaking and working together. Next week I dive into one of the unique -- and somewhat daunting! -- aspects of the UK University system: tutorials, just me with three or four students.
So, if any of the students I'm teaching see this, I'd love to hear from you -- leave a comment if you're willing to do it in public, otherwise send an email.
p.s. I haven't been able to bring myself to watch Supernova, the BBC's new sitcom revolving around the life of (wait for it) an astronomer... Has anyone out there seen it?