Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

Active vs. Passive Learning

"When Sesame Street first aired, it was hailed as a revolutionary innovation in education. The back alley set was designed to appeal to inner city tots who may have been economically deprived, but all had televisions. It was fast paced, action packed, colourful and fun.

Sesame Street started new trends in teaching strategy. It set new expectations in students, and it established new learning patterns that have plagued education ever since. Modern students have become an audience that expects to be entertained. They have become passive rather than active learners.

Today’s passive learners expect the teacher to thrill, delight, and fill them with wonder so they don’t become bored. I read once that teaching elementary school has become like trying to give a birthday party to the same kids, five days a week for forty weeks without losing their interest. These expectations now extend well into highschool.

Passive learners, unfortunately, are disadvantaged because they depend on someone else to make them learn. Self motivation is a form of effort which the passive learner finds foreign or at least unnecessary. Why read a book when you can watch the movie? Do we have to take these notes? Can’t you just give us a handout? The passive learner is a person with an empty cup who says, “OK, you fill it.”

Outside school, in the “real world,” the most successful members of society are self motivated. In school they were probably active learners. Active learners, through an effort of concentration, tune out distractions and focus on the task or lesson at hand. They write, take notes, read, sketch, listen, ask, and think; they do anything, physical or mental that will help them know and understand the day’s lesson. Active learners fill their own cups, and they squeeze out of a lesson every drop of learning they can.

Turning students into active learners is the challenge of the twenty-first century, and the first step is to get out of the audience. Turn off the TV and play a game. Solve a puzzle. Learn some card tricks. Read a book. Active learning isn’t a trick or gimick to help people be successful in school. It’s an attitude and a lifestyle."

Source: "Greg Drozda ";