Training Materials: Training Session 1: Introduction to Seeing FASTly
What is teachFASTly?
: 10 Minutes
You can download these notes as a PDF here. At the start, have slide 1 of Introduction to Seeing FASTly on the screen to show the topic. Explain that participants are going to learn about an approach to teaching faith and science that informs the resources available at www.teachfastly.com. Explain briefly that this website is a Christian resource for high school science and Bible teachers.
Display slide 2 and explain briefly that the site is not a whole curriculum or a guide to all faith and science questions, but a collection of activities and resources designed to illustrate and enable a particular approach to teaching and learning.
Display slide 3 and ask participants to take a few minutes individually to choose one of the words at the bottom of the slide to complete each sentence. When participants have had two or three minutes to complete this, tell them that this exercise is part of an introductory activity from www.teachfastly.com. Then use the following talking points to summarize the purpose behind this kind of activity:
- The notion that science and religion have long been at war (sometimes called the “conflict thesis”), is an idea popularized in the 19th century. It is still assumed by many to be correct, and culture wars debates around prominent issues such as origins and climate change can reinforce the assumption.
- Since that time, however, most historians have come to see the warfare model as, at best, simplistic. (For background, see e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_thesis.)
- Research on the beliefs of scientists also shows that most scientists do not believe that there is a necessary conflict between science and faith, and many scientists are Christians. (See e.g. this article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01447.x/abstract.)
- The relationship between science and faith is better viewed as more varied and complex.
- The teachFASTly resources aim to help teachers and their students explore this complex relationship in a way that moves beyond simplistic notions of faith and science as inherently in conflict with one another.
Display slide 4 and allow participants to read the quotation from Francis Collins, a leading scientist involved in the Human Genome Project.
Explain to participants:
- The teachFASTly resources are not designed to provide answers to the major debates about science and religion. They are not about taking positions on controversial topics.
- Instead they focus on teaching – how can we teach about faith and science in a way that helps students embrace both of them and explore the connections?
- FAST stands for Faith And Science Teaching. FASTly means teaching in a way that honors both faith and science.
: 15 Minutes
You can download these notes as a PDF here. During this activity you can display slide 5 (showing two roads) of Introduction to Seeing FASTly as a background image. Organize participants into groups of three. (If the numbers don’t quite work, some groups of two or four are fine). Hand out copies of Two Teachers. Ask the groups to read the story and discuss the three questions below it. Allow about 6-8 minutes for this.
- After about 6-8 minutes, draw the discussion to a close and explain that the teachFASTly resources are based on the conviction that there is always more going on in a classroom than conveying content. Not only what we teach but how we teach is sending messages to students about what is important and training them in ways of engaging with the topic.
- Building supportive community did not mean that the second teacher had to teach science less well; in fact it might have increased student engagement and enabled more students to succeed. The teacher made a connection between his faith and the way he taught science, and he continued to teach science in a way that took that connection into account.
- But is supportive community enough? What other connections could he make between his faith and the way he teaches science? Allow a few minutes for the whole group to brainstorm.
Now move to Facets of FASTly.
Facets of FASTly
: 20 Minutes
You can download these notes as a PDF here. During this activity you can display slide 6 of Introduction to Seeing FASTly as a background image during group discussion. Hand out copies of Only Photosynthesis. Ask participants to return to their small groups, read the story, and make some written notes on the sheet in response to the questions. Emphasize that they should complete the first side of the sheet before moving on to the second part of the story on the second side. Allow about 10 minutes in total for this activity. You may find it helpful for time management to pause and briefly collect ideas from the groups about the first side of the sheet and have everyone begin the second side together.
Then draw people back into the whole group and display slide 5. Explain that the teachFASTly resources explore a range of connections between faith and science. Different activities draw upon different connections. Show slides 7-12 in turn to illustrate the different facets of faith and science teaching addressed in teachFASTly resources. These include:
- Truth – What kinds of truth can we know through science or by faith? How do we handle apparent conflicts in light of the Christian conviction that both the Scriptures and the natural world are authored by God?
- Virtues – What character qualities are needed to learn science well or to work well as a scientist? What virtues inform scientific practices or teaching practices? How are these connected to faith?
- Motivations – What motivates people to study and work in science and technology? How can the range of motivations be informed by faith?
- Society – Learning about faith and science can impact our relationships. Science and technology impact society. How can faith frame the way we approach these wider impacts?
- Practices – What do our teaching practices and our scientific practices say about the kinds of truth, virtues, motivations, and societal connections we value?
- FASTly – Teaching FASTly includes paying attention to all of the above.
Finally, display slide 13 and hand out copies of What Is Teaching FASTly for each participant. Explain that this handout offers a quick guide to the thinking behind the teachFASTly resources. If there is time, have people read it over; otherwise recommend they read it over after the session.
Display slide 11 and conclude with an overview of what www.teachfastly.com is and is not. There is text to accompany these bullet points on the handout – the key points to emphasize are:
What teachFASTly IS:
- A modeled approach. The activity resources are designed to offer a practical model of a whole approach to teaching faith and science – this is more important than whether you choose to use or skip any particular activity.
- A push at the boundaries. Some activities may be new or surprising – they join things that we often habitually keep separate.
- A collection of free resources. There is no charge or obligation. All resources can be freely used and adapted to local needs.
What teachFASTly is NOT:
- A replacement science or Bible curriculum. The resources enrich existing curriculum; they do not cover all topics or assessment needs and need not be used in sequence.
- An attempt to replace science class with Bible class. There are resources for cross-curricular connections between science and Bible class, but the particular goals of each are not suspended.
- A set of positions on controversial faith/science questions. The resources offer an approach to teaching, not a set of answers to controversial questions. They aim to provoke reflection from both teachers and students.