Upper school science cohort

About the cohort

Getting a job as a science teacher at a classical school – easy. Teaching science well so that students learn – a bit more challenging, but doable. Reconciling science and faith while covering all the topics in an AP course – even more challenging. Doing all the above, classically – completely overwhelming!

My first introduction to classical education was at a conference shortly after I was hired to teach Chemistry at Geneva. I was immediately hooked and felt like I had discovered the educational model I had always thought was possible but had never seen. At the end of the conference, I spoke up during a Q&A and asked where Chemistry fit into the classical model. The winsome rhetorician replied rather bluntly, “It doesn’t.” It’s not hyperbole for me to say that I have spent the last 18 years trying to prove him wrong. With that said, to fit Chemistry and other modern sciences into a classical, Christian curriculum, they must be reimagined and set into a historical and faithful context.  They  must be redeemed from their partnering with secular humanism. This cohort will explore how we as science educators in classical schools can set about that arduous task of reclaiming science as a gift from our Creator, clearly on display throughout the rich intellectual tradition we have inherited.

Meeting Time: 6:00-7:30 pm CST on Tuesday Evenings

Meeting Dates: 8/16, 9/13, 10/11, 11/15, 12/13, 1/10, 2/7, 3/11, 4/9

Meet Your Cohort Leader​

Trained as a chemist (B.S. and M.S.), Brian started his teaching career as a Lecturer at Rollins College in 1999. In 2004, he found his true calling when he switched to teaching high school science at The Geneva School in Orlando, FL. Over the last 18 years, he has worked to figure out where Chemistry fits into a classical curriculum oriented towards the cultivation of wisdom and virtue. From 2014-2016, he worked with The Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning developing resources for science teachers oriented towards the cultivation of Christian faith in science classrooms. In 2015, Brian returned to school and earned a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University in 2018. With renewed vision and passion for Classical Christian Education, he currently works as an associate professor of science at the College of the Ozarks (assigned to the Christian Classical School of the Ozarks on campus) but will not be teaching any science courses next year – only integrated humanities and natural philosophy. Making the transition from scientist to philosopher is something he is very proud of and loves to talk about. He lives in Hollister, Missouri with his wife and two classically trained sons, across the street from a golf course, and quite near to some of the best trout fishing in the United States.
Brian polk
Associate Professor of Science, College of the Ozarks

Cohort Syllabus

August 16

  • The first session will be about getting to know one another and learning what each member of the cohort brings to the table. What discipline do you teach? What do you do well? What do you struggle with? Lastly, we will begin to outline a vision for the ideal Christian Classical classroom and map out a plan to get there.

September 13

  • Any rhetorician worth their NaCl (s) will start by defining their terms. In this session, we’ll dig deeply into the Shakespearean inquiry – “what’s in a name?” I think it matters.

October 11

  • In addition to our thinking about what makes our classrooms classical, we must also keep at the forefront of our minds what makes our classrooms Christian. You have two eyes – one must always be on what makes this lesson Christian and the other on what makes it Classical.

November 15

  • Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein. We’ll stay big picture and attempt to capture the shifts in Worldview (or paradigm shifts) that have occurred over the last two millennia. We’ll also attempt to capture the main questions that all scientific worldviews have in common – what is matter, what is motion, what is change, what causes change, and what is space. Did someone say four causes?

December 13

  • With sessions on the nature of science, classical science, Christian pedagogy, and the history of science to work with, we’ll begin to map out a plan of implementation for the Spring semester. We are scientists, we experiment, let’s redesign a unit. What do you want to try in your classroom next semester? An overview of 5E lesson planning and Next Generation Science Standards will be included.

January 10

  • Who gets the privilege of determining what is true or how we even come to know if something is true? Are scientists the sole harbingers or truth? Theologians? Philosophers? Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack here but we need to have a firm understanding of what science can and cannot tell us if we are to make real progress.

February 7

  • Empirical proof is at the heart of science but most labs are about as complicated and “scientific” as a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and smell way worse. Further, extant educational literature provides little support for why we should do labs especially given the cost and expense. However, parents and administrators love the term “hands on” so what are we as teachers supposed to do? How can we offer a lab curriculum that honors what we value as Classical Christian educators?

March 7

  • Far too often, we teach science as an accumulation of facts. What should be an entree into the fascinating world of inquiry instead comes off a lot like trivia. But fascinating things are happening that hardly ever get mentioned in our classrooms. Relativity, quantum mechanics, Schrodinger’s poor cat, cosmology, and CERN to name a few! Let’s spend some time getting up to speed on frontier expanding modern science and discuss how exposing our students to questions instead of answers can awaken their awe and wonder. This will also give us a chance to talk about emergence and reductionism which is always fun.

April 11

  • You knew we’d have to talk about it eventually. We’ll explore various ideas about creation and discuss how to teach these to our students.

 

TOTAL COST

upper school science cohort

$ 2,499
  • SCL Member Schools receive 10% discount
  • Monthly Payment Options Available

Joining a cohort

In order to keep group sizes small, and maximize effectiveness, groups are limited in size (typically 10-12) and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants are asked to commit to the work and engagement involved.
 
Due to the limited size, some individuals will be waitlisted until there are enough applicants to form a new group. Also, a minimum of six participants are needed for each group to make.

Questions?

Please reach out to Sarah Spencer at sarah@societyforclassicallearning.org