December 16, 2019

Summer Work

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Journey Reflections
Dr. Robert F. Szalapski
The Harley School – Physics

§ Purpose

While I am always very enthusiastic to charge ahead into an ambitious program of physics and mathematics, I find that my students sometimes have anxieties. Any meaningful learning activity requires the student (in the most general sense of student) to step outside of his or her comfort zone. As that comfort zone expands the student gets a bit braver and steps into greater uncertainties allowing for greater learning. As a teacher of physics I need to have the trust of my students such that, should they feel that they are suddenly in water over their heads, they will still listen to the sound of my voice when I say, “Don’t panic. Relax and you will swim.”

This first assignment will help us to get to know each other. You will write about your own journey in mathematics and science. First you are expected to read Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson, ISBN 978-0-87-140-385-8. (Select a couple of talking points in each chapter for later discussion in class. It is okay to highlight directly in your personal copy of the book or to mark quotes with Post-It Notes.) I will attach a brief reflection by me in the hopes that it might stimulate your thinking. However, your journey is your journey, and you are the expert on that topic. Choose the style and voice for your essay that best allows you to communicate your personal story.

§ Early Influences

Tell me something about your family and your environment. How did your early experiences affect your attitude about education and science? Was any one person especially influential? For example, I recall riding in a car with a younger friend when I was in high school who happened to be complaining about his struggles with algebra. His father’s response was, “I had to take algebra in high school. I’ve never used it since!” That really wasn’t the motivational speech that was needed. Who was it that inspired you? Was there anybody that discouraged you?

§ Education

Teachers, both good and bad, can make a huge difference. Since you are all students and so focused on school, I would expect that this will be one of the easier parts of your reflection. Nevertheless, it may be best to jot down notes over the summer and to mull it over a bit before your final writing. You might have a discussion with your parents too as they might recall some high and low points. Since you don’t yet know what the future holds perhaps you can write more in this area. You might also think about the influences of friends and sports and clubs.

§ Your Future

Please speculate on your future. You should save a copy of this document, and every few years you can reflect once more. You may be surprised!

§ Due Date

Your reflections will be due one week before the start of classes. The length is not so important, but it requires a lot of thought and, not surprisingly, reflection. We will be using these on the first day of school.

If there are things in your reflection that you wish to remain confidential, please tell me. I would expect to see some variety in these essays. Each person follows a unique path.

 

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