Thank you for your interest in the SymmetryScience program.
Before you begin your exploration, I would like to tell you why this program was developed. I have been privileged to examine the mind at the bedside as a neurologist and explore the physics of thinking in the laboratory as a biophysical electrochemist. I have also been a teacher of medical and graduate students, night-school adults, and children learning science and nature in school or at camp. It has been a life filled with using science and art to explore the workings of the human mind.
The SymmetryScience curriculum had its beginnings in observations that I made as a professor teaching medical and graduate students. I was surprised by the lack of understanding of the fundamental scientific process, philosophical viewpoint, and conceptual knowledge in many of the expert science students I taught. All of these students could recall facts, but many could not apply them to problems of interest.
Over a decade of teaching, I developed several courses and wrote several textbooks that used the powerful scientific tools of pattern feature analysis and theoretical modeling as a way to remediate the language of science that my students lacked. These pedagogical explorations in the classroom and curriculum design were supported by my research work in intelligence modeling and by my clinical experiences at the Neurological Unit of Boston City Hospital. The tradition of cognitive neurology at the Neurological Unit greatly facilitated my understanding of how the brain uses the structures of form and language to develop into a mind.
When my daughter entered school, I started working with educators who had the same experience with their elementary students that I had with my graduate school students. I was motivated to develop a curriculum of science study based on the idea that science could be more universally understood if its intrinsic language was explicitly taught early in the educational process, much as we teach children to read and write. These were the beginnings of the SymmetryScience Program.
The concepts at the heart of the SymmetryScience program development recognize that the parallel between science and written language cannot be lost. Before the school experience begins, the brain is busy learning on its own. Children begin school with a huge vocabulary and a knowledge of the syntax of spoken language. Over the same time, the brain is sampling the natural world and constructing experiences into a view of the world.
The cognitive mechanics of the brain are more magical than scientific. To provide a scientific view, I introduced a language of critical analysis (the Language of Patterns) to correct the intrinsic tendency of the mind to reach unsupported conclusions. My goal became to build a program using this Language of Patterns along with laboratory and activity-based explorations. This program was coordinated with the development of the brain. This provided a unified, structural approach to knowledge construction that has become the SymmetryScience method. Working with an enthusiastic core of teachers and schools over the last several years, we have grown into an education company dedicated to the development, design, and implementation of these science education tools.
As you read this booklet I would like to draw your attention to the philosophical core of the SymmetryScience curriculum that you will see in the following pages:
1) First, science is a way of looking at the world. Properly taught, science simplifies our view of the world. With mastery of a unifying language and just several fundamental concepts and strategies, the limitless diversity of the universe becomes manageable and open to us all.
2) Active learning is work! This is true for the learner as well as the teacher-mentor. Structured discovery coordinates the construction of knowledge so that it supports and provides context for the addition of the next piece of the content puzzle. The goal of making students successful is supported through understanding. In using the principle of structured discovery, we glorify the process and seek to assure success through hard work.
3) The SymmetryScience program recognizes that the teacher is a central figure in the learning of every student. While ultimately every teacher strives to make the student independent, the process of achieving this independence needs to be supported through materials and professional development opportunities. Teachers who are inspired to learn, inspire students to learn! All of our materials are designed with this in mind.
The SymmetryScience program does not just teach science, it uses science to teach. I look forward to working with you and your students.
Peter R. Bergethon, M.D.
Boston, Massachusetts 1998