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ˈpərpəs/ : the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

Despite our differences in content areas, our goal is common as science educators: get across science content to students in an educational setting such that they can successfully utilize the content on their own. This is, at its broadest, the minimum job requirement of a science teacher. But to make the science interesting distinguishes a great teacher from a mediocre one. The difference between making science interesting and not doing so is, in part, reliant on purpose. We must have a purpose for why we are teaching what we are teaching – if we don’t know why we care about a particular topic in any given subject, why will our students care? Why should my students care about kinematics, or DNA, or rocks, or atoms? What purpose do they have to these students?

It takes a lot of extra deep thought in planning lessons to really get to the crux of “why am I making students do this, and how will this actually help them.” The fact that it’ll be on the test is rarely enough – students need and even want real life applications for what they are doing. At the end of the day, there are reasons we all chose the subjects that we did to teach, and one of mine is to mold the minds of future physicists and astrophysicists. With this in mind, I have to ensure that I really emphasize the purpose in what we are doing, because if you can’t see it in your plan, your students certainly won’t.

One Comment

  1. “why am I making students do this, and how will this actually help them?” are two of the most important driving questions for constructing daily plans… add in “how do I connect daily lessons to create a coherent story” is another one to the list of questions to consider. You are on the right path in your career if you are considering all of these (and other) important questions.

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