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Freeman Hrabowski: ‘We need to change the culture of science teaching and learning’ [VIDEO]

As a self-proclaimed “fat math nerd” in 1962, Freeman Hrabowski stared up at Birmingham’s Bull Connor after he was arrested during a civil rights march. Connor spat in his face, then carted him off to jail to spend the next five days in a cell. Today, Freeman Hrabowski is known nationally as the president of UMBC, […]

As a self-proclaimed “fat math nerd” in 1962, Freeman Hrabowski stared up at Birmingham’s Bull Connor after he was arrested during a civil rights march. Connor spat in his face, then carted him off to jail to spend the next five days in a cell.
Today, Freeman Hrabowski is known nationally as the president of UMBC, and a perennial contender for Lists of Influential People that Magazines Always Publish Every Year.
At TEDxMidAtlantic in October, he shared some of his insight as to why UMBC, during Hrabowski’s 20-year tenure, has become “the leading institution of the country, regardless of race, for sending African-Americans along to get MD/PhDs,” as he said during his TED talk.

The video of Hrabowski’s talk is below, and he has been inspiring at other tech events, but the ultimate point he stresses is that the culture of how science is taught and learned must be changed. There are three ways to do just that:

  1. Have students work together in groups to solve real-world problems as a way to have them practically apply scientific theory. At UMBC, this happens when biotechnology companies housed in the school’s Research and Technology Park, for instance, present students with challenges.
  2. Teach students to ask the right questions, and remove the emphasis on note-taking for the sake of.
  3. Build community among students. Have researchers take a personal stake in students’ learning. Tell students that they, one day, can be leaders in a variety of scientific fields.

Watch Freeman Hrabowski speak at TEDxMidAtlantic:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLYMLt4MQ0Y?list=SPsRNoUx8w3rN4l7h9HzGwXlDuUKWqb-eS]

Companies: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) / TED

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