Why Teach Science?

Why do I teach?

I teach because the world is full of problems needing solutions. A deeper knowledge of how our world works provides insight and possibilities to address the most pressing issues facing humanity today: deadly diseases needing cures, the long-term effects of energy production and climate change, the social and economic impacts of persistent poverty, improving justice and alleviating inequalities within society.

I teach because I think young people who enjoy and are engaged in mastering new skills in school – not just memorizing facts – are most likely to develop the habits of lifelong learners to observe, analyze, test, and evaluate possible solutions to those challenges faced at work, at home, and in society. Inspired, passionate students will have the drive and energy as adults to tackle the issues which continue to bedevil humanity: poverty; access to clean water, information, adequate nutrition, and health care; sustainable development; energy use and climate change; and the loss of biodiversity on a global scale.

Why do I teach science?

I teach science because I’ve always been curious about how the world works, and I want to share with students the wonders of the intricate, interdependent, and seemingly infinite universe we inhabit. I want them to experience firsthand the fascinating strength and complexity of plants, the energy changes in chemical reactions, the structure and function of ecosystems, and the knowledge behind the creation of machines.

I teach because science gives us something to dream about for tomorrow. It’s inspirational and a driver of change. Science, broadly, is a methodical approach to observing our world and figuring out ways to improve it by solving problems and overcoming challenges. Science, and necessity, are ultimately the parents of all invention. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a more eloquent communicator than I am, so I will paraphrase him to explain what fuels my personal interest in the fields of astronomy, biology, chemistry, and ecology:

  1. When you consider the ingredients of stars and the broader universe, we find that the most common elements out there – hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen – are the same ones we’re made of, so that studying deep space isn’t just looking back in time, it’s examining something that we’re a part of, something extraordinary on a grand scale which transcends human or even planetary lifetimes.
  2. Given the rich chemistry of these common elements, with carbon so versatile that it’s capable of building a wider variety of molecules than all the other elements combined, something as profound as biological life just might inevitably arise from those chemical interactions, and that would mean we’re almost certainly not alone in this universe, which is somehow comforting.

I teach because I was inspired by John Price, Rick Ayres, Ray Barker, Brother Borgia, and Brother John to pursue knowledge not only for the sake of knowledge, but to use that knowledge to make a difference in the world. Some people are the inventors and creators of solutions. Teachers guide and inspire young people to become those creators and direct their talents to tackling those challenges facing our world.