In his talk “3 rules to spark learning” Ramsey Musallam, a chemistry teacher, talks about the importance of putting learning into the hands of students and teachers should create lessons that foster creativity and a want of learning in students. He sums this up in three simple rules that he applies when creating lesson plans. One, curiosity comes first. Two, embrace the mess of trial and error. Three, practice reflection. He learned these rules from his surgeon who performed a life-saving surgery and wowed Mr. Musallam with the confidence that he had approaching the surgery. The surgeon told Mr. Musallam the he was curious and wanted to know all he could about the operation about what worked and what did not work. The surgeon also explained that had embraced the mess of trial and error (which I would not want to hear from my surgeon) and he reflected and designed a procedure that he performed on Mr. Musallam to save his life.
These three rules struck a chord with Mr. Musallam and changed his teaching style. He wanted to create a strong sense of curiosity within his students; he wants them to ask questions. That is where meaningful learning happens and he makes sure to build that into his lesson plans. He embraced trial and error in order to find the best ways to teach the students. He is open to change. This ability to change is evidenced in his third rule of reflection where he is open to looking at his teaching to see what works and what doesn’t.
And he gets a good response from his students. I was terrible at chemistry so this might be a convoluted explanation, but after modeling the ability to hold a piece of paper with the mouth of a liquid filled cup held upside down (a vacuum, I suppose), a student sent him a video of her covering the mouth of a jar with her hand a candle in it. When the flame was extinguished, she was able to lift the jar with her open hand as though it was glued to her hand, an extension of the lesson in the classroom.