A guest post by Sara Dennis of Classically Homeschooling
How in the world do you join the great scientific conversation without losing your mind? The high school years are busy. Teenagers have increasing amounts of schoolwork to do. In addition they have outside classes, recitals, rehearsals, games, and a social life. Time is short.
In the three goals of high school science, I wrote that teens need to learn scientific principles, the scientific method, and join the great conversation. Entrance requirements of colleges ensure students to learn the first two through study and lab work. These goals become a high priority. However joining the great scientific conversation isn’t a college entrance requirement. It is too easy to skip this critical part of classical education.
Join the Great Scientific Conversation
Joining the great scientific conversation when you have busy teenagers is a bit tricky. Especially as working from dawn to dusk isn’t a popular answer with teenagers who do wish to see their friends from time to time. So what do you do?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
The answer is deceptively simple. Take it slow. You simply need to join the great scientific conversation with your teenager, not master it.
Please notice, we are joining. We are beginning. We are starting the long marathon, not finishing it in the four years of high school. There is a lifetime ahead for our teenagers to master the great conversation and for their generation to add its mark on history.
Here are two easy options for introducing the great scientific conversation to your high school students that will fit into their busy schedules.
Option One: Chose One Work to Study
This may be the simplest option. Chose a work that corresponds to the scientific field you are studying this year, or a work that sounds interesting. For instance there is Darwin’s The Origin Of Species, Newton’s The Principia : Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, or Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory just to name a few. Pick one of the many great works to slowly absorb over the course of the year.
Consider picking up the audio version of the work and listen to it in the car as you drive from activity to activity. Another option is to read it aloud over lunch. A third choice is for each of you to read a small section over the week and meet over tea and cookies on Saturday mornings for a weekly discussion.
As you read or listen to the works, be certain to stop and discuss the concepts together. Research the author and his life to gain perspective on what was happening during his lifetime.
Sometime during the year write one or two essays or papers about the author and his work. Do you agree with what he is saying? Why is this work important? What future developments in human society did he affect? Who followed in his footsteps?
There’s no hurry to finish and be done. Simply read the work, discuss the concepts, do some research into the life and times of the author, and write down your own thoughts about the work over the course of the year.
Option Two: Trace the Development of a Topic Through History
The goal for this option is to follow the development of one concept or subject through history so we can see how scientific knowledge grows and changes. We also learn who some of the giants in scientific thought are.
This is a wonderful way to become familiar with a continuum of thinkers through the ages and see how each generation takes the knowledge of the previous and expands on it. It also familiarizes the teenagers with many great thinkers and their works through the ages.
There are several books such as Comets: A Chronological History of Observation, Science, Myth, and Folklore, The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450, or The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors which can give you a starting point. Read one book together over the school year and discuss the developments in science as you read.
Have the teenagers do a short research paper or essay into the works or life of one scientist that sparked their interest. You can assign one in the fall and one in the spring, or simply have your child do one paper over the winter before the end of the year craziness begins.
The biggest point to remember is while there is no hurry to finish the marathon, there is a need to start the race. Our teens are ready to read the ideas, debate the concepts, and write their opinions. It is time to ensure they join the great scientific conversation.
How are you starting the great scientific conversation with your high school student?
Sara Dennis is a homeschooling mother of 6 children ages 3 through 17. After much research into homeschooling in 2000, she and her husband fell in love with classical education and used it as the foundation for their homeschool. Sara Dennis blogs at Classically Homeschooling you can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest & Google+ .
Save money, time and get it done, go ahead and subscribe! Often my posts contain affiliate links. Affiliate link purchases help us to pay for this blog and for our curriculum. Thank you for using them when you are able.