An old proverb has it that “A society grows great when the elderly plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” This remarkable proverb certainly expresses an interesting concept about the torch that one generation passes on to another: After all, what does it mean to truly work for the benefit of future generations that will exist long after we are gone?
The Greater Good
At its best, work in education and work towards scientific enlightenment spans many generations. As educators, we are in a metaphorical sense planting seeds of knowledge that will take many years to blossom. But we do so in order to benefit future generations while we have the opportunity to do so. And this is particularly true of education related to the sciences.
In contemporary society, for example, the influence of science and scientific reasoning is all around us. Scientific thought determines by and large how we live in the modern world: Our most basic creature comforts are either the result of or directly related to established methods of scientific inquiry. When we turn on our lights, get a snack out of the refrigerator, or tune in to a favorite television program, we’re directly benefiting from years of scientific thought and inventiveness.
New Generations of Learners
For many of today’s students, however, growing up in an age of scientific reason and discovery is often taken for granted. But educators can do much to show the benefits of scientific reasoning to students.
Truly, the benefits of science education are myriad. For example, a high school student who develops a passion for physics or chemistry can use scientific learning to secure a first-rate university scholarship. Such an outcome can be a life-changing event in lower-income schools.
The Usefulness of Scientific Inquiry
Moreover, students who become familiar with the scientific method early in life will be able to use critical thinking skills in a variety of contexts. With the right amount of encouragement, these students may end up pursuing careers in fields such as healthcare or engineering. These career paths are immensely beneficial to society and are rewarding to boot!
The critical reasoning skills developed via scientific inquiry can also create new generations of learners who will one day become informed citizens. As we look to the future, in other words, we can see that scientific learning will play a major role in the formation of a future society. What a reward it is to play a part in this important process!