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Comments and Experiences of K-12 Summer Institute

ptong's picture

Coming into this institute, I had the impression that our weekly meetings were for discussing different approaches to education and how we can present this during the 2-week workshop. However, I was surprised to find that the workshop resembled very much like my 2nd semester course in Neurobiology and Behavior with Paul. I was very curious about how this lecture would relate to education since I had previously approached the course as solely a neurobiology class. I was astonished how approaching science as a “sum of observations” and a continuous loop related to education as well. At the same time I was wondering why I had not seen the connection earlier.

I found the connection very interesting and also realized what we had discussed in the meetings prior to the workshop was to compare what we thought was good science education to what we thought it was with K-12 teachers. It was interesting to see the differences in views, where some teachers embraced the idea of “teaching” science through questions where the teacher has no right or wrong answer. Other teachers wanted more concrete ideas of how to effectively teach children. This is where I found a slight disconnect between teachers and between the teachers and the institute.

Hearing conversations between teachers during lunch, some expressed fascination in the topic of neuroscience while others expressed confusion through humor, joking about boxes and cables. And the teachers, who express this confusion, seem to want to know more about what specific methods they can do in class to make science more interesting. However, I was pleased to see teachers sharing their experiences about their students to the institute and sharing ideas about how to approach certain situations in class.

The teachers were diverse in experiences and expectations of the class, but everyone seemed to understand where the other was coming from. All teachers were engaged and interested in the conversation and no one particular group of teachers (like high school teachers, or elementary school teachers) dominated the dialogue. I found this aspect to contribute to the success of the institute.

Even though it resembled much of 2nd semester, I got a completely different understanding of neuroscience and its relationship to education. It then made me think about how I could apply the same concept into other things. The ideas coming from the institute are also relevant for medicine. As a pre-med student it is very helpful in knowing how to be a “good” doctor. Not only is it important to cure a patient, but its also essential for a doctor to educate the patient. This will go a long way for me if I keep this in mind as a physician.

Overall, the institute was very effective and fun. I was able to learn about education, but more importantly, I got a greater meaning to what we learned and applied it to things more relevant to me (for example as a pre-med student). I also think that the teachers feel the same way. One teacher commented on how she realized that many of things discussed in the institute was the exact same approach she had in her class, but she is more aware of it now. I feel like the institute was a great success for the teachers and I in the sense that we both will come out being more conscience of the brain and its behavior.