It’s the time of year that begs us to follow traditions. One of the things I do every year is make toffee. Family and friends look forward to it, so I keep doing it. Two years ago, my candy thermometer broke. And I forgot about it – until it was time to make the toffee last year – and again this year. But, I made the toffee anyway. If you know anything about making any kind of candy, you know that temperature matters. Last year I decided I would try to “remember” the consistency, color and smell of the finished product. And it worked.
If you are a baker, cook or candy maker who values the precision in cooking, this is might drive you crazy. Guessing when the butter, sugar and water reach the right temperature? Though cooking is based in science, there is an art to it as well. There is a “sense” when things are going well and when they’re not.
The same is true with teaching and learning. There is a science to instruction. There is science behind how we learn and how the brain responds to the stimuli provided in certain ways. There is lots of research on the best ways to teach various subjects, how to help students store facts in long-term memory and how to provide enough variety in instructional practices to address most learners’ needs. Much of this is addressed in teacher training programs, and some in additional professional development. It is interesting and continues to evolve as our methods of discovering just how learning takes place become more sophisticated. It is crucial for the basis of understanding learning.