December 2021

Thoughts on Reading and Science Education

Reading, like nature, inspires us to dream and to imagine, but most importantly, it teaches us to think for ourselves. A person who doesn’t read is rarely an interesting, inquisitive and curious person, at least for me. (Whistler’s Black Tusk mountain).

A few days ago I was asked to lead a discussion with a group of local parents on how they can support their children during the school – university transition. As I have had an opportunity to teach undergraduate science courses for more than 10 years, I have seen many of these issues and their implication in my own practice, so I felt I could do that. On the other hand, I didn’t want to focus solely on science education, but to look at the big picture.

Very soon I realized that one of the biggest issues I saw was students’ inability to understand and analyze written text. They read, but didn’t understand it, they were overwhelmed by it and expected to have a brief summary instead of the text. They stumbled over anything that was longer than a few paragraphs. Many of these students have earned high marks in their secondary school to be accepted to a university, but few of them learned to read and critically process what they read. And this is critical for any field, and not only science education.

If I could change one thing for our K-12, I would place a larger emphasis on reading. Not instilling the love for reading is a very big problem for university students. And passively watching a video IS NOT the same thing as reading a book.  I encounter students’ lack of reading habits,  when I meet students more and more often. It also affects their ability to communicate, to express their ideas and to form independent opinions. Reading is a key to a post-secondary success, but most importantly, it is a key of interesting and fulfilling life. This is something my own teachers and parents were able to give me – the love of reading. I am very grateful for that and I hope we, as teachers, will be able to instill this appreciation and thirst for reading in our own students and children…

So what are my favourite books that I have read recently? I will only list a few of the most recent ones and they are all from different genres:

  1. Arthur Miller: “Death of a Salesman”
  2. Arthur Miller: “A View from the Bridge”
  3. Gad Saad: “The Parasitic Mind”
  4. Dava Sobel: “The Glass Universe”
  5. Dava Sobel: “The Longitude”
  6. Philip Roth: “The Plot against America”
  7. Albert Camus: “The Plague”
  8. Vladimir Bulgakov: “The Master and Margarita”
  9. Leo Tolstoy: “Anna Karenina”
  10. W. Somerset Maugham: “The Moon and Sixpence”
  11. Jordan Peterson: “12 Rules of Life”
  12. Walter Isaacson: “Leonardo da Vinci”

These are only a few of many I have enjoyed reading recently. So if you are thinking of what present to give to your children, why not to bring them a book or to give them a membership for an online audiobook store.

UniversityTransition_Parents (with trans)

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