“Cosmology Teaching Begins”
By Linda Shore
Today I started teaching the Monks how to teach about cosmology. They already have experienced many superb workshops and presentations on the early universe and its evolution presented by experts in astrophysics. I have decided it might be best to start from where their learners are at and start with “personal cosmology” that includes the familiar objects in the sky: the moon, sun, planets, and stars. I want to show the Monks how to sequence activities to build accurate understanding of the Earth and Moon’s place in the Solar System, of the Solar System’s place among the other stars, and of the stars’ role in manufacturing the very atoms that make everything around us.
To begin, I had the Monks place pictures on their backs. These pictures showed astronomical objects they should already be familiar with from previous workshops: planets, the Sun, the Earth, the Moon, nebulae, stars, galaxies, etc. By asking “yes or no” questions of the other Monks, each person was to guess what is on their backs. After that, I asked the Monks to arrange themselves in several different ways – from the object closest to the Earth to the object farthest away; from the youngest to the oldest; from the smallest to the largest, etc.
My immediate impression is that these Monks are the best “students” I have ever had. If I gathered together the very best Teacher Institute alumni from the 25-year history of the program and put them in a room together, these Monks would rival them in enthusiasm, curiosity, sense of humor, seriousness, sense of purpose, and joy. What an honor it is to be their “science teacher” for 2 weeks.