Monday, August 2, 2010

Nature nurture

This post was initiated by a friend who sent me a cryptic message, informing me that he was allergic to penicillin. During my walks along the sea side, I asked my mum, who is a fantastic biology teacher,(she is still so curious about things!!), all about this drug and here is what she told me...
Did you know that penicillin was discovered by mistake? In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming, an absent minded professor, left his culture in the open, and upon his return, found a certain kind of mould  growing along side his culture. This mould was inhibiting the growth of the bacteria.
This made me think about my experience as a teacher. If Sir Fleming had carefully controlled the culture, this discovery would not have been made. Nature was accidentally allowed to take its course. Who would have guessed that a fungus could counter attack bacteria. Needless to say, many lives were saved because of this discovery.

As teachers, we need to let go of control. There are times when we look at the clock and worry about what we have not been able to cover. We set the pace and we stop the talk when they get too long. We need to relax and enjoy our kids. Letting go is hard but essential if we want to nurture their genius. When I look at the picture, I see myself as the Petri dish, setting clear boundaries, but giving the students (the mould, or problem solvers) enough space to evolve on their own. The bacteria are the natural authentic experiences that students are exposed to.


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