...many students I’ve spoken to have little sense of the big questions those (scientific) technical details collectively try to answer: Where did the universe come from? How did life originate? How does the brain give rise to consciousness? Like a music curriculum that requires its students to practice scales while rarely if ever inspiring them by playing the great masterpieces, this way of teaching science squanders the chance to make students sit up in their chairs and say, “Wow, that’s science?”
I'm always amazed at this same issue when it comes to other important areas of study, such as mathematics. Students are often taught math in a very dry and boring way even if they have a lively teacher. I always thought it would be better to teach math as a history of discovery. Why do we have calculus? What led to its creation? What problems did those who created it need to solve and why?
If the field of study doesn't have any Wow moments that can be shared with students, then find another discipline. At the same time, students should really try to not be too cynical with what they are being presented. A typical example I've had with students is describing humans walking on the moon for the first time. Neither myself nor the majority of the students I have taught were alive when Neil Armstrong took that step (and botched his line) and so we have a tendency to not realize how amazing that really was because it has always been a part of our lives. But, as one of my professors was fond of saying, other animals look at the moon and think, "Look at that bright light." We look at the moon and think, "That's a place where we can go." How cool is that?
The Rational Moderate