What happened to September?

It’s almost unbelievable to me that we’re not only through September already but over halfway through October – the school year so far has been a blur. I’ll admit that I took on a challenge this year; not only have I been taking a headlong leap into SBAR with one of my Chemistry courses (which also happens to be the one that I am solely responsible for teaching, so I do all of the work on my own) but I also (foolishly?) decided to enroll in two, rather than just one, masters classes at the University of Minnesota this semester.

While grad school on top of (work) school has kept me infinitely busy in the last 2 months (as evidenced by my lack of writing here) I have been extremely pleased with the classes that I’m taking. One of them – my favorite – is on teaching the history and nature of science, focusing especially on the effectiveness of presenting scientific discoveries in its historical context in a way that accurately portrays the cultural mindset and research/investigative process that led up to the discovery. A lot of our discussions and reading have been not just about the nature of science, but also delving into some of the philosophy of science and the development of scientific knowledge. I rather enjoy it! As a part of the class, we are each developing a historical case study (on top of weekly readings, etc.) that will be able to be used in class – mine happens to be on the development of iron refining in ancient China and its relation to the Bessemer process patented in the 1850’s (which eventually drove the use of steel in the industrial revolution in the western world). It’s quite interesting, but a lot of work! If I get some time maybe I will post more about it.

My other class is a general ed class called “Advanced Curriculum and Instruction,” which I (at first) thought would be kinda boring, but it has proved to be fairly interesting. We’ve read and discussed a lot about some of the trends and reforms in education, and looked at what was happening and how they came about. It’s compelling to hear about where a lot of the policy and structure of our school system has come from, and what exactly happened in order to bring it about. I’ve been most interested in the discussions we’ve had about how influential politics are in education, which is something that has always intrigued (and to an extent, scared) me. I’ve always had somewhat of a love/hate relationship with politics, in particular when it comes to science and education.

As I’m writing, I’m getting the guilty feeling of pending work that needs to be done on my case study, which I have been neglecting for a couple of hours now. Most of those couple of hours were spent reading a couple of blog entries about the mindset of science students, start with Brian Frank’s post and then John Burk’s follow up. Good stuff!