WWW Site for John Lawrence Bencze, Associate Professor, Science Education, OISE/University of Toronto

Professional Development

On this page, you can learn about professional development (PD) that I conduct for teachers and others involved in science education. Although I can tailor PD to local needs, there are some topics (refer below) that are most suited to my background. These are based on my educational principles and on the STEPWISE curricular and instructional framework. They also are based on educational research, including my publications. In most cases, I provide participants with educational resources - many of which are described and/or linked to my website. There are no professional fees associated with this PD, although travel and lodging expenses could be covered by organizations inviting me to conduct lectures and/or workshops. If you are interested in discussing any of the PD possibilities below, email me at larry.bencze@utoronto.ca.

Given that my work is largely focused on educating students/citizens about harms to wellbeing of individuals, societies and environments associated with influences of powerful people and groups on fields of science and technology (and, likely, engineering & mathematics [STEM]) and to take personal and socio-political actions to address harms of concern/interest to them, I am most interesting in PD regarding 'Activist STSE Education,' as briefly outlined below. An example (from here) of me speaking about this is shown in the video below:

Science Skill Development.
This PD provides teachers with theory and practical teaching resources for helping students to develop skills for conducting
student-directed, open-ended science inquiry and/technology design projects and related communications. Emphasis is placed on helping students  develop such expertise as that for: asking questions, designing experiments, constructing graphs, critiquing inquiries, and developing data- and theory-based arguments. Many resources are at: Skills Education.
Activist STSE Education.
This PD deals with helping students to understand relationships among science, technology, society and environment (STSE); with the major emphasis on individual, social and environmental problems attributed to science and technology/engineering. Emphasis is placed on encouraging and enabling students to carry out primary and secondary research as a basis for taking socio-political action to address STSE issues/problems. Some resources in this area are at: STSE Education and WISE Activism.

Nature of Science & Technology.
This PD deals with characteristics of practitioners, practices and products of science and technology/engineering - including that it generally is theory-determined (rather than strictly data-driven) and, to a great extent, influenced by socio-political factors (e.g., economic interests). Relationships between fields of science and technology/engineering also are discussed. This work draws on history, philosophy and sociology of science and technology. Examples of resources about this are provided at: NoST Education.
Science Education & Profit.
This PD may best be conducted as a lecture. In whatever form, I will discuss science education in relation to
neoliberal capitalism; i.e., processes that orients social relations towards profit-generation. Such processes generally appear to benefit small fractions of societies, leaving most citizens relatively illiterate with regards to science and technology and, moreover, relatively oriented towards unquestioning consumption of for-profit goods and services - an orientation that appears to be posing significant personal, social and environmental challenges.
Alternatives to such problems are discussed.