Recently, in a history of physics magazine, I came across this picture and a short story on Harvard Project Physics, and I thought about the effect that this project, and these three people in particular, have had on my view of education. We all have mentors and I have the great good fortune to have had some wonderful ones. Fletcher Watson, Gerald Holton, and Jim Rutherford, in the physics project/curriculum they created, vectored me to think first about physics education and then all education as a human enterprise full of fascinating stories, real people, living concepts, and the history of ideas.
Their Harvard Project Physics program brought me to Fort Lauderdale to teach it’s beta version at Nova High School for two years, meet my wife Betty, then go to Cambridge to write a lab manual for some of its electronic equipment which turned into a stint making educational films and from there to teaching and developing a math curriculum with the same goals and objectives. It’s humanistic vision has underpinned all of my efforts to reenvision and redesign education in each of my entrepreneurial enterprises.
Today, I am working with some new mentors on a new, next generation, project to bring this same fundamental philosophy and pedagogy to learning in the digital age. I am as excited about this as I was about teaching Harvard Project Physics so long ago, and to bringing a new vision of online learning to all of our kids. Our Challenges Project follows on the work Peter, Ryan and I developed in What if Math and that is described in detail in my new book Make it Real, and the Grand Challenges work that Larry Myatt has brought to us. You can follow our progress here or send me an email if you want to join us to rethink education for our digital age.