I believe science education should be focused not only on the transfer of knowledge to students, but also should develop students into critical thinkers with an appreciation for the process of science. My role as a biologist and teacher is to create a classroom environment where students learn identify questions, answer those questions, and develop the confidence to question the validity of answers given by others. These skills are not only vital for any students who may go on in scientific fields, but are widely applicable across a wide spectrum of careers.
The common misconception that science is merely a collection of facts rather than a dynamic process that seeks the truth is at least partially created by science classes that focus on memorization rather than discovery. Figuring out the answer to a real world problem is energizing to most people and builds confidence that translates into other areas. I favor a pedagogical approach that creates varied opportunities for students to ask and answer questions relevant to the material. This process of discovery will help the students retain the material and develop problem solving skills. Opportunities to critique, discuss, question and engage in the type of debate common is science is also very important for building confidence and critical thinking skills in students.
This philosophy is only as worthwhile and effective as it is applied in the classroom. Each classroom is filled with a different set of students with their own strengths, weaknesses, and perspectives. This means that teaching must be adjusted for each group of individuals and the effectiveness each course must be evaluated continually. Similarly, I strive to continually update and improve my teaching by actively learning new skills from my colleagues and seeking feedback from my students.