“If teacher candidates can accept that their pre-conceptions could be challenged, they will be more open to understanding their students’ diverse thought processes,” Dr. Guoqiang (George) Zhou states. Innovation comes from looking at a problem or situation from an alternative viewpoint. That is why it is important for community educators to recognize patterns of thought that maybe different from their own.
In such an environment, students with different life experiences and cultural backgrounds feel unthreatened when they present their ideas. This way, innovation and new thought is recognized.
Zhou works with chemistry and physics teacher candidates to help them learn to appreciate science through a process of argumentation. According to this model, teachers begin teaching where the students’ minds are. First, teachers assess how their students are learning and how they are thinking about a problem, then, base their teaching strategies upon this knowledge of their students’ thought processes. Students and teacher work together from this base point to move learning forward.