August 2016

New School Year: Happy Endings and New Beginnings


St. Bartholomew’s Church, Berchtesgaden at Koenigssee.

As the summer is coming to an end, I would like to pause to reflect on some of my summer experiences. This was a very beautiful, busy and breathtaking summer for me. Just before the beginning of this summer I was notified that I was granted tenure and promotion – which obviously was wonderful news for me. I also found out that the second edition of our introductory physics textbook was approved – which was great. A number of my students got job offers and began their careers as teachers. This summer I was able to finish a few interesting projects, had time to work on the second edition of our introductory physics textbook, had an opportunity to travel and to attend interesting events. For example, during the trip Koenigsee (a beautiful lake in Bavaria), I took a ride on a motor boat to visit St. Bartholomew’s church shown in the image. It is a beautiful church located in the most picturesque area. On the way to the church, we witnessed the echo produced when we passed a narrow passage. As I was there on vacation, away from work, papers, science books and articles, I could not help but think about how many interesting science questions one might ask on this trip – the echo, the beautiful colour of the lake, the potential energy carried by the waterfalls surrounding it, … I was thinking how much richer our lives are thanks to our knowledge of art, science, literature… This is something that I hope my students will be able to take away from my courses this year.

At the end of August I also was able to attend a very interesting event at Amdocs Israel – an educational hackathon sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Education and Amdocs. It was devoted to re-imagining our schools. The event was very exciting. I was especially impressed by the keynote presentation by Gever Tulley. He spoke about his Tinkering School and how one can engage students at a very different level by allowing them to do “dangerous things” – such as building, constructing, exploring, using toolsa that we think only adults should be using. It was very inspriational.

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However, the most memorable idea I learned at that even was from the area of design. It is a story of Doug Dietz and his ideas about innovation. I would recommend you to watch it. It is not about healthcare, in my view it is as much about education as one can imagine. An ability to empathize is as important for educators, as it is for doctors. I think this TED is certainly worth watching.

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Every September teachers like me think of new beginnings. It doesn’t matter how long you have been teaching, you are still very exciting about meeting new students, teaching new courses, sharing new ideas. I would like to wish all my friends and colleagues, and all the students a fruitful and exciting new academic year.

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