Educating Solution Integrators
Director, Knowledge Integration, University of Waterloo
It is not enough that students understand only the humanist’s perspective, or only the scientist’s — complex issues such as climate change, health care, and the global economy require the perspectives of many disciplines, together with the critical thinking and synthesis skills to see the big picture.
Knowledge integration builds bridges across disciplines and develops the essential skills of the 21st century — it develops students who are literate, numerate, articulate, and know how to play well with others — it develops students as integrative thinkers who can collaborate across boundaries — disciplinary boundaries, geopolitical boundaries, and cultural boundaries — students who are better equipped to understand and cope with the extraordinary challenges of our times.
Playing with Science: Scientific Books and Toys for Children in France, 1830-1914
History Department, University of Guelph
As an undergraduate, I studied physics and history; at the graduate level, I specialized in the history of science. Now, as a professor at the University of Guelph, I teach in both the Department of History and the Bachelor of Arts and Science. In this presentation, I will discuss the challenges and the benefits of crossing the divide between the humanities and the sciences in terms of teaching and research. I will then discuss an aspect of my present research dealing with the ways in which French children between 1830 and 1914 gained an understanding of science and technology through play and amusement. Amusing physics and recreational mathematics is a literary genre that has existed since the sixteenth century but, around 1830, books of amusing science specifically addressed to children began to appear. By the 1860s, series such as La Bibliothèque des merveilles were introducing children to electricity, chemistry, photography, geology, and technology while Jules Verne’s novels presented a world in which science seemed filled with wonders. As they opened, the new department stores began selling toys inspired by the century’s scientific and technological innovations: telegraphs, photography kits, mechanical trains, steam engines, electrical motors, amusing physics boxes and chemistry kits. Anthropologists have written about games as opportunities for learning and toys as models or replicas for real world adult activities. Building on this, I will explore how, at a time when mandatory elementary education was being established in France, books, and toys of a scientific nature pushed learning out of the classroom and into the world of play.