Our Teaching Philosophy
In most high schools, science classes are largely limited to teaching facts in order to construct an understanding of the natural world. For instance, “genes control cells, which form tissues, which form organs, which compose organisms, which are part of a biome.” If presented too rigidly, a curriculum can leave students with the impression that there are few questions left to ask, and that humanity has a firm grasp on biology, physics, math, etc. But, of course, the truth is far more exciting: countless mysteries remain!
At SNP, we strive to cultivate curiosity, self-confidence, and imagination in young people. Our philosophy is that science is not a collection of facts, but rather a process of examining the world around you with intrigue and thoughtfulness. Science encourages a healthy dose of skepticism in order to challenge the assumptions and biases you have about the way things work–“how can we be sure that genes are made of DNA, if we can’t even see the stuff?” At SNP, we approach science as researchers do: asking big questions about the world, looking at experimental data, and formulating new questions. The hope is that students will leave SNP with a more adventurous and assertive approach to learning, being confident in their own ability to seek answers. So, for example, when a teacher describes how cells divide, students will be brimming with questions: “how do cells know when to divide? how do cells know when not to divide? what happens if they don’t split their chromosomes exactly in half?…” Once students are encouraged to ask questions, they are much more likely to be interested in genetics, Newtonian mechanics, and the periodic table.
In our experience, asking questions about the brain is a wonderful way to get students interested in science. Almost as soon as you start thinking about it, it is apparent that nearly every aspect of our experience is shaped by our brain. For this reason, it’s easy to get anyone to be curious about neuroscience and behavior. Even students interested in poetry, music, sports, or philosophy will find an immediate relationship between their passion and the brain.