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My personal perspective on science that was explored in the beginning of the school year has changed tremendously.  Throughout my own learning experiences in a science classroom, I had time and time again encountered teachers’ using a didactic method.  As a result, I believe this experience shaped my own science teaching orientation as I was not exposed to other approaches.  Entering Michelle Dubek’s classroom at OISE gave me a completely different outlook when it comes to science education and truly reinforces the idea that students learn best by doing.  This is supported in a study which showed that hands-on experiences change how students process information, therefore making students learn better and perform better in comparison to a didactic approach (Kontra et al., 2015).  In addition, another study found that students in a “stand-and-deliver” lecture are actually 1.5 times more likely to fail a science course in comparison to students who are in an active classroom that is not teacher-centered (Freeman et al., 2014).  Nonetheless, didactic teaching may be beneficial in terms of fact acquisition and presenting foundational knowledge but it forces many students to follow material passively (McDonald, 2003).  In consequence, my perspective has now moved towards creating learning experiences that are relevant and valuable.  Doing so would attempt to improve student engagement, an issue that Turner and Peck (2009) state is greatly lacking in the study of science.  
From my perspective, the deficiency in student engagement goes hand in hand with a lack of emphasis on wonder in science education.  In addition to my own experience as a testament to this, studies show that school systems capitalize heavily on extrinsic motivation which often leaves students less interested and less engaged (Shumow & Schmidt, 2014).  This disservice is noted by Shen (2016) who states “the curiosity and wonder so vital to the scientific process are unintentionally extinguished”.  What is unfortunate about this finding is that had it not been for the role of wonder in science, the multitude of scientific discoveries since the beginning of time would be non-existent.  In support of this, Stolberg (2008) states “wonder is inseparable from the study of Nature and its processes” (p. 1959).  This proclamation has a profound effect on my own journey towards realizing how paramount wonder really is and it is this journey that continues to push me away from the didactic approach to science education.  In light of this, I truly believe that science education should look to enhance a learner’s curiosity and be presented in a way that builds on a human’s natural inclination to make sense of the world around them.  As Stolberg (2008) noted, this would in turn allow a student to cultivate intrinsic motivation “by which individuals can seek answers for themselves (Kozoll & Osborne, 2006), to test their ideas and those of others (Pugh, 2004), to assuage their curiosity (Bruner, 1996; Byman, 2001; Day, 1982; Kashdan, Rose, & Fincham, 2004) and be the impetus for further learning” (p. 1950).  It is this intrinsic motivation which lends itself to an aesthetic experience, one where meaning is formed and fulfilment follows.  According to Giord (2007), the behaviours associated with this aesthetic experience involve a thirst to learn more, an extension of knowledge beyond the classroom walls and an attempt to see examples of the ideas taught in everyday life.  This aesthetic experience ultimately paves the way for a deeper and richer involvement in science, one that I believe is truly necessary to be in tune with the natural world. 
To conclude, although I have recognized that student engagement is central to science and environmental education, it is still a complex and challenging problem that I will have to tackle as a future educator.  The research presented supports the idea that student engagement can be increased when teachers’ provoke thinking, invite curiosity and instil a sense of wonder.
These elements help create an aesthetic experience that will transpire during a lifetime.  According to Stolberg (2008), this can be “nourished in the young by adults who help
them to rediscover the ‘joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in’ (Carson, 2002, p. 55).  It is not, therefore, a passive experiencing of the natural world, but an active engagement” (p.1959).  However, Stolberg (2008) raises a very important question, “Can teachers encourage a sense of wonder of the natural world in their pupils if they have not ever experienced it for themselves?”.  According to Wilson (2008), “during the early stages of cognitive development—when learning is dependent on concrete perceptual experiences— perception conducts thought. With adults, however, perception obeys thought” (p. 25).  As troubling as that is, I believe that in order to invigorate a sense of wonder, I must attempt to keep the spark of wonder burning in my own daily life.  What further motivates what would be my conscious effort going forward is “the feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that makes life worth living” (Dawkins, 2006, p.12).


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