Why do I need to know this?
You’ve all heard this question before, in math class, in biology, or English: “Why do we need to know this?”
Now, most teachers will ignore you if you say this. Some clever teachers will whip out a chart about what kind of jobs a person with a math degree can get–but teenagers are hardly thinking about becoming systems analysts or biological statisticians. Frankly, this was one of the least impressive answers I’d heard. Math as a JOB? I like math, but like, jobs don’t sound like fun. Whatever.
Pardon me for indulging my Southern Californian imitation for a second.
The most intriguing answers to me were from teachers who clearly enjoyed the subject, who were passionate about learning, and about finding out the answers to complex questions. My physics teacher once waned poetic about the wonders of the human ear, and how simple mechanics allow you to hear entire symphonies of sound built upon sound upon sound…It was at that point that I realized that wonder was a key component to liking this science stuff.
Now schoolteacher Alom Shaha from the UK has compiled 30 minutes worth of answers to this question, filled not just with a sense of wonder but also with a sense of urgency in solving the world’s problems. I think this is so important. It’s really easy to think science is about memorizing old facts that some dudes discovered in the 1800s, or some less old facts that some dudes refuted in the 1900s. But science is really about the here and now, about making new discoveries that can change the way we live and breathe everyday.
Here’s an article about his film, and the film’s website itself, where the whole thing is available for free. It’s well-made. And since he teaches at a girls’ school in London, some of his students participate. I’m not all the way through yet, but it’s pretty awesome so far.