Mastery, Integration and Wonder: The Model That Transforms Science Instruction

John Mays November 9, 2018

Presented at:
2018 SCL Annual Conference


The first goal of science instruction is for students to learn science. This requires replacing the ubiquitous "cram-pass-forget" cycle with a pedagogy aimed at learning, mastery and retention. But mastery is not a goal that can be pursued in isolation from the whole realm of qualities that make us human – the immense spectrum of the human spirit and mind. The new model proposed here has mastery firmly in view, but coupled with a fundamental engagement with the human spirit. Our pedagogy must emerge from an anthropology. First, we appeal to the human spirit through the natural human faculty of wonder. Next, we must involve the whole mind in the learning process through integration in four key areas, each of which is of supreme importance to science instruction – epistemology, mathematics, history and language. Finally, we teach for mastery with a fully articulated set of teaching practices. The goal of mastery is supported by the integration, and the entire structure is propelled by the never-ending capacity of humans for marveling at our beautiful world.


Classical Education Education Learning Pedagogy Science Subject Integration


John Mays
John holds a BS in Electrical Engineering, a MEd in Secondary Education and an Master’s of Liberal Arts. He served as the Math-Science Department Chair at Regents School from 2001 to 2009, then became Director of the Laser Optics Lab at Regents. He founded Novare Science & Math in 2009, and is the author of numerous student science texts and teacher resources. Now working full time as writer, publisher and consultant, John continues to teach students part time at the Laser Optics Lab at Regents.

Other Contributions by John Mays

Science: Discovery and Discipleship

Article - SCL Conference 2015

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Article - SCL Conference 2015

Slaying the “Cram, Test, Forget” Dragon

Article - SCL Conference 2014

Course Sequencing for Upper School Science

Article - SCL Conference 2014

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