The Second Symposium on the Nature of Science

The Pedagogy of Passion

David Thornburg and Norma Thornburg

College enrollment in science and engineering is declining as the number of high-paying jobs in these fields is continuing to increase. Even in the face of a stock market downturn, the shortage of high-tech workers has reached crisis proportions worldwide. Research has shown that this problem needs to be addressed in the middle and high-school years, and this presentation shows how to do just that!

Through a presentation with demos of novel software, we explore the pedagogy of passion—methods for insuring that every learner can go beyond the mechanics of their subjects to understand why there are people who devote their lives to the fields of math and science. In short, we explore why we must move beyond simple competency in math and science to helping students know why there are mathematicians and scientists. Exemplary software tools that allow learners to explore these fields creatively will be presented along with some concrete suggestions for remedying a crisis that threatens the economic viability of the developed world.

Attendees will leave with practical guidelines and a renewed excitement for learning and teaching.

David Thornburg
Director of Global Operations
The Thornburg Center

Successful Meetings magazine lists Dr. David Thornburg as one of the top twenty-one speakers in the United States. His dynamic, thought-provoking presentations provide transformative experiences to well over 100,000 people per year. His monthly commentaries for PBS on the impact of emerging technologies on learning expand his reach far beyond the podium.

But David is more than a public speaker. He is an award-winning futurist, author and consultant whose clients range across the public and private sector, both in the United States and in Brazil. His corporate clients range from small startup ventures to some of the most dynamic large corporations in the world. His razor-sharp focus on the fast-paced world of modern communication media and its impact on learning has placed him in constant demand as a keynote speaker and workshop leader.

As the founder and Director of Global Operations for the Thornburg Center, and as Senior Fellow of the Congressional Institute for the Future, he conducts research and provides staff development in the areas of educational futures, multimedia, communications, and whole-mind education throughout the Americas. He helps clients to think intelligently about the future and is active in exploring ways that telecommunications and multimedia will change the face of learning, both at home and in the classroom.

His educational philosophy is based on the idea that students learn best when they are constructors of their own knowledge. He also believes that students who are taught in ways that honor their learning styles and dominant intelligences retain the native engagement with learning with which they entered school. A central theme of his work is that we must prepare students for their future, not for our past.

In addition to his work at the state and local level, he is also involved at the federal level in helping to shape telecommunications and education policy for the benefit of all learners. In his capacity as Senior Fellow of the Congressional Institute for the Future, David shares his perspectives with policy makers throughout the country. He was recently commissioned to write a position paper for the United States Department of Education on the future of technology for K-12 education.

He has written numerous books and created several CD-ROMs. His latest book, Campfires in Cyberspace, explores the true nature of the World Wide Web as a tool for learning. Reviewers have declared this to be the definitive book on the topic.

In addition to his consulting, speaking, and writing, David also serves on several non-profit boards.

Dr. Thornburg is the recipient of several awards for product design and is the recipient of both the Golden and Platinum Disk awards from CUE (Computer Using Educators, Inc.) for his contributions to the advancement of learning and learning technologies. In 1999 he was selected as one of twenty "pioneers" in the field of educational technology by ISTE, the premiere organization devoted to the advancement of technology in learning, and was named by Technology and Learning magazine as one of the ten most influential people in the field of educational technology in the past twenty years.

He has been the subject of numerous magazine articles and has appeared on radio and television throughout North America. According to the magazine Electronic Learning, he is one of the six most popular speakers in the area of educational technology.

David splits his time between the United States and Brazil. His work in Brazil also is focused on education, and he has consulted for the Federal Secretary of Education as well as for firms and educational institutions throughout that country.

In addition, David plays blues with Lou Fournier and Ferdi Serim, fellow members of the Bluesmen of the Silicon Delta. Together, they are the world experts in the genre of Silicon Delta Blues, songs that convey the deep gut-wrenching experience of those high-tech workers who drive BMWs and have to deal with stock options. Lou, Ferdi, and David perform and conduct workshops on the history of this little-known branch of the blues for public and private audiences.

Norma Thornburg
Director of Emerging Technologies
ARS Consult

Mrs. Thornburg, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a world leader in the field of project-based learning and also in the incorporation of robotics in the constructivist classroom. She has been an educator, school principal, and consultant throughout Brazil. She also speaks to thousands of educators each year at conferences in North and South America. In addition to her work on the application of emerging technologies to education, she has advised the Brazilian government on educational reform. Her personal philosophy is harmonious with the work of Piaget and constructivism as exemplified through project-based learning. Norma is one of the early leaders in educational computing in Brazil and her work is now global in scope.

Norma is the Director of Emerging Technologies for ARS Consult, a Brazilian educational consulting firm headquartered in Recife, Brazil and is also a Director of the Thornburg Center. In addition to her work in educational technology, Norma is a photographer and also has a strong interest in embroidery. Norma and David have homes in both the US and Brazil.

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