Quarknet at the Summer School in Marathon, Greece

We had a wonderful week at the European Summer School program called "Discover the Cosmos." Presenters from all over Europe gave talks about current technologies that can be used to present material to our students in new ways. Marge Bardeen from Fermilab even presented some Quarknet tools that we Americans have been using all along.

I observed that the European teachers have to plan their lessons following certain prescribed protocols just like we do. For example they needed to include "asking inquiry-based questions" according to a certain format. This format was foreign to us. We American teachers had trouble understanding how these questions would improve student comprehension. I could relate it to a time when my district required all teachers to use a new method of classroom management, although I had no problems with classroom management. I was glad that we were able to find resources that we could use to improve our science teaching without having to adopt all the European standards. It was interesting to see that all teachers, European and American, have to deal with the same kinds of political intrusions into our jobs.

In talking with teachers from various countries I was glad that I teach in the USA. Many teachers in Eastern European countries have no say in where they teach. The Government assigns them to a school and they just have to move to that city to teach there. Often the curriculum is prescribed by the government and no change is allowed. Teachers had no say in what they taught and how it was to be presented. We Americans have a lot more freedom to create the best learning environment for our students.