Some years ago, I had the privilege of listening to the renowned historian, David McCullough, speak in Salt Lake City. The title of his lecture instantly grabbed my attention—“The Importance of Teachers.” McCullough discussed the influence teachers had had on key figures in American history. I was especially impressed by one of McCullough’s stories—The Incident of the Fish:
Louis Agassiz, a well-known American scientist of his day, was also a master teacher with a rather unconventional teaching style. Agassiz was a professor at Harvard University. He prepared no syllabus for his courses, nor did he require an entrance exam for students to enroll in his classes. They were accepted simply on whether or not he liked them, which meant that he took just about everyone.
Agassiz believed that the way to all learning, “the backbone of education,” as he frequently reminded his students, was to know something thoroughly. “A smattering of everything is worth little,” he asserted. His goal was to teach students “to see deeply” in order to develop genuine understanding. This objective was illustrated by “the incident of the fish,” as told by one of his former students, Samuel Scudder.
After Professor Agassiz interviewed and accepted Samuel Scudder into his class, he asked Samuel when he would like to begin. Scudder responded, “Right now.” Agassiz excused himself momentarily. When he re-entered the classroom, he was carrying a dead fish! This was a stinking, putrid and foul-smelling fish personally selected by Agassiz from among countless jars lining the shelves. Professor Agassiz placed the dead fish on a dish in front of Samuel Scudder. He then provided this simple instruction, “Look at the fish.” At this point, Agassiz left the room. Scudder described what happened next:
In ten minutes I had seen all that could be seen of that fish. Half an hour passed—an hour—another hour; the fish began to look loathsome. I turned it over and around; looked it in the face—ghastly! I was in despair. I was forbidden to use a magnifying glass. Instruments of all kinds were forbidden. My two hands, my two eyes, and the fish! It seemed a most limited field. I pushed my finger down its throat to feel how sharp the teeth were. I began to count the scales in the different rows, until I was convinced that that was nonsense. At last a happy thought struck me—I would draw the fish, and now with surprise I began to discover new features in the creature.
Hours later, Agassiz returned and listened as Scudder attempted to describe his observations and asked his teacher what he should do next. The astute professor repeated his original directive, “Look at the fish!” Scudder continued:
I was irritated; I was mortified. Still more of that wretched fish! But now I set myself to my task with a renewed will, and discovered one new thing after another. The afternoon passed quickly; and when, toward its close, the professor inquired, “Do you see it?” I replied, “No, I am certain I do not, but I see how little I saw before.
The following day, having thought of the fish throughout the night, Samuel Scudder had a brainstorm. “The fish,” he explained to Professor Agassiz, “had symmetrical sides with paired organs.”
“Of course! Of course!” Agassiz said, obviously delighted, when his new student shared his newfound insight. Once again, Scudder asked what he should do next, and Agassiz enthusiastically replied, “Oh, look at your fish!” This lesson went on for three full days. “Look, look, look!” was the repeated charge. Years later, Scudder, who became widely known for his work on the importance of first-hand, careful observation in the natural sciences, frequently recalled the legacy of his beloved teacher.
In an era that places too great an emphasis on testing, it is vital that we continue to teach for deep understanding, just as Louis Agassiz did so many years ago. We should always consider the following question, “What does it mean to truly understand something?” Understanding fundamental, core ideas and developing the capacity to transfer and apply should be the primary goals of all teaching and learning. Thank you to the hundreds of dedicated teachers in Weber School District who teach for deep understanding, application and transfer every day. This remains “the backbone” of a child’s educational experience.
The Weber School District has scheduled spring Round-up/Registration for next year’s Kindergarten students. The parent and the child should attend the Round-up/Registration session. This session will last approximately one hour. Any child whose fifth birthday falls before September 2, 2018 may enter Kindergarten at the beginning of the 2018 -2019 school year.
Kindergarten Round-Up/Registration Dates ----
|Bates||Wednesday, March 21||1:30 PM|
|Burch Creek||Wednesday, March 28||2:00 PM - 4:00 PM|
|Country View||Wednesday, March 28||2:00 PM - 3:00 PM|
|Farr West||Wednesday, April 18||2:00 PM|
|Freedom||Wednesday, April 11||3:00 PM - 4:30 PM|
|Green Acres||Wednesday, April 11||(A-J) 2:00 PM||(K-Z) 3:00 PM|
|H. Guy Child||Wednesday, March 28||1:45 PM|
|Hooper||Wednesday, March 28||1:45 PM - 3:00 PM|
|Kanesville||Wednesday, March 28||2:00 PM - 3:00 PM|
|Lakeview||Wednesday, April 11||3:00 PM - 4:00 PM|
|Lomond View||Wednesday, April 11||(A-L) 1:45 PM||(M-Z) 2:15 PM|
|Majestic||Wednesday, March 21||2:00 PM - 4:00 PM|
|Midland||Wednesday, April 11||2:30 PM - 3:30 PM|
|Municipal||Wednesday, April 18||2:00 PM - 3:30 PM|
|North Ogden||Wednesday, April 18||(A-K) 1:30 PM||(L-Z) 2:30 PM|
|North Park||Wednesday, April 11||2:00 PM - 3:30 PM|
|Pioneer||Wednesday, April 11||2:00 PM|
|Plain City||Wednesday, March 28||Registration 1:30 PM||Orientation 2:00 PM|
|Riverdale||Wednesday, March 28||1:30 PM|
|Roosevelt||Wednesday, March 14||2:00 PM - 5:00 PM|
|Roy||Wednesday, April 11||Registration 2:00 PM||Orientation 2:30 PM|
|Uintah||Wednesday, April 18||2:00 PM|
|Valley||Wednesday, April 25||2:00 PM|
|Valley View||Wednesday, April 18||3:00 PM|
|Washington Terrace||Wednesday, March 21||4:00 PM - 5:00 PM|
|West Haven||Wednesday, March 28||2:00 PM|
|West Weber||Wednesday, April 11||Registration 2:00 PM||Orientation 2:30 PM|
****In addition to the Round-up, there will be fall appointments scheduled for the individual child and parents to meet their teacher. These appointments, based on registration materials received, will be mailed to each home in August.
Weber School District needs a student registration form, proof of residency, a birth certificate (bearing a seal) and a dental and physical examination (both are recommended but are optional). The State requires proof of immunization for all children entering Kindergarten. These documents may be handed in at the Round-up/Registration. All documents are due before the child can attend school in the fall.
Weber School District CTE has created a K-12 Teaching as a Profession pathway to help combat the teaching shortage. Our goal is to “grow our own” teachers. This program is part of the national Education and Training cluster. This program will offer students opportunities to explore careers in teaching, planning, managing, and providing education and training related learning support services.
The K-12 Teaching as a Profession pathway begins in the 9th grade with Exploring Education. The 10th and 11th grade classes are Teaching as a Profession I & II. In these courses students will explore teaching as a profession through hands-on experiences, gaining first hand knowledge of what it is like to be a teaching professional. As a capstone to the program, students will have the opportunity to earn concurrent college credit through Weber State’s Education 1010 course and can also participate in a Work Based Learning Internship in our district schools with mentor teachers.
Weber District CTE was given the opportunity to present our K-12 Teaching as a Profession pathway at the Utah State Board Association conference
Kanesville Elementary recently hosted the VEX IQ Competition. This competition is the elementary version of robotics designed for students to compete against other teams. Similar to legos, the students design, build, program and drive these robots. Qualifying teams go on to compete at the state level. Weber School District was well represented with 20 out of the 36 teams. Kanesville and Green Acres were amongst the winning schools. The state championship will be held in February at Davis High. We wish these talented students and teachers the best of luck!