The Crescendo in the Science Classroom
The mindset of a learned student in the 21st century
You may laud music that draws you into a dreaminess state of mind or it can provide a stimulus for foot-stomping action. Music carries with it an emotional content along with complexities and subtleties. Music moves people and it is a pleasurable thing to experience. It is a form of escapism for the mind.
Flow, as described by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in his book on the psychology of optimal experience, details a similar experience of losing oneself in the moment, but this is now done within the realm of academics. Students become so engrossed in the event that time stops, focus becomes laser-like and the world around them seems distant. This euphoric pleasurable learning mindset is an outcome of living experiences that swell, like a crescendo, and resonate with students emotionally and academically.
The moment, the crescendo, that all-encompassing event is what educators call the learning experience. Employing teaching and learning strategies in the classroom geared toward open-ended problem solving experiences, will ebb-and-flow their way toward this event and produce that moment for students to immerse themselves in learning. Students, working on projects, forge forward with experimentation or toil over the analysis of data looking for relationships while collaborating within teams of students that discuss outcomes and evidence-based conclusions.
From the genesis of their education, students need to be enculturated in this new way of thinking. Initially, students experiment with what is obvious or well know, like gravity or heating matter, but learners have to eventually rethink their assumptions about the world that they inhabit by relying upon new evidence and new understanding creating broad sweeping mental images of the universe that they experience. There has to be an emotional investment by students to want to learn new outcomes and embrace the relevance of knowing and understanding science and its effects upon their lives. Project-based science is the means to this end result.
The current generation of K-12 students have not experienced coherent strategies, in the classroom, designed to develop critical thinking. Currently, teachers and students are going through a tough learning curve to move pedagogy from rote memorization and standardized testing without understanding, toward a more realistic accounting of students that are now learning how to become more effective problem solvers.
We can only hold students accountable for what they have experienced in school and in life. To change the way students learn is to change the expectations that we have for them in our classrooms. Modeling this new way of thinking will increase intrinsic motivation of students to learn and perform and thereby change education forever.