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Diverse Perspectives in Physics Classrooms

The Institution of Science asked the esteemed Dr. Sylvester James Gate, currently a teacher at the School of Maryland, to give two discussions on Tuesday March 21, 2017. The first converse "What unique perspectives does a minority university student bring to a physics class?", given in Mayo Concert Hall as the second gross annual Barbara Meyers Pelson '59 Lecture in Faculty-Student Proposal, centered on Gate's experience as an educator and his observations on how minority students bring diverse perspectives to physics classrooms. The function started with Janet Morrison presenting Dr. Gate who's an intellectual pioneer in string theory, very gravity, and super symmetry, has authored over 200 research documents, is the director for String and Particle Theory Centre in Maryland, and was honored with a membership in the Country wide Academy of Sciences. He received the National Medal of Research from Chief executive Obama for is efforts to scientific research in 2013 and became the first African America to hold an endowed seat of physics at a significant USA research university. Furthermore to is impressive educational achievements, Gate in addition has been a lifelong advocate for variety in the class; even being the first physicist to create to the United States Supreme Courtroom to argue the value of minority students in college or university classrooms. This notice to the Supreme Judge and articles printed in response to a judge's question about his position was the part natural stone of his lecture.

Gates opened up his talk giving a short overview of his profession regarding physics and open public outreach through documentaries and commercials. This lead to him talking about his first documentary in the 1990's where he explored how the sciences were starting to be accessible to minorities neighborhoods in ways, such as teacher positions and research opportunities, that was not possible before. This business lead to allegory on variety, starting with all things music, that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court docket. Gate argued that "life is enriched from different musical style" (Gate) and I suspect anyone would disagree that their life is poorer credited to presenting more than classical music to listen to. This theme of diversity enhancing a subject or product, Gate argues, can be found throughout the clinical disciplines. In biology, diversity in biomes creates life that is more adjustable to change. In biomedical executive, the use of genetic changes not only improves produces in food harvest but also diminishes the utilization of environmentally damaging pesticides. It really is this argument, rather than the "moral argument" (Gate), that Gate bases his position on. He suggests that, while it is appropriate morally to ensure individuals from all backgrounds have access to the sciences, it is important for technology as a self-control to ensure variety to make it through. "So what does diversity do? It enriches the experience. It gives us a greater set of choices" (Gates) and these choices are the future of medical development.

While Gates never mentions the conditions situated knowledge or standpoint theory his quarrels and stance about variety in the classroom and academia are dependent on these ideas. He stated through the question and answer area of the discussion that "the outsider viewpoint which is therefor intellectual diversity which I'm discussing. In the example that we talked about, it was the presence of the minoritythat induced the bulkto be more careful in their analysis and that's what suppressed the grown of [economical] bubbles. So yes, if so it's the actual ethnic diversity that does that" (Gates)1. Earlier, he also stated that minorities, whether they are cultural minorities or gender minorities, have a new way of thinking and viewing the entire world because of their minority statues. This all immediately relates to situated knowledge and standpoint theory in the idea that the positioning of these individuals provides then different perspectives which allows them to better understand the challenge at hand. He never outright mentioned that this point of view is more advanced than the majority perspective but it was, for me, seriously implied which brings about his arguments being more based in situated knowledge than standpoint theory.

I found the speak to be helpful but marginally disorganized and the presenter to be open and not frightened to speak his mind even if his viewpoints were unpopular. Through the talk, I discovered some very interesting information such as Einstein's record of communal justice work and current research on diversity in various disciplines; however, the presenter thought we would use an allegory type of storytelling that, if one did not listen closely intently to, was easy to lose track of. Throughout the talk and while answering questions, Gate was forthcoming on his personal views and values whether the audience agreed with him or not. I believe this is especially relevant during the last question after the talk. The individual asking the question appeared to be implying that cultural diversity did not matter as long as there is "intellectual diversity", which essentially reminded me of an person arguing that someone was "making something all about race", and I really believe Gate gave an excellent answer which not only spoke how ethnic diversity triggered intellectual variety but how it was needed for intellectual diversity. Being a teacher, I am hoping to decorate my school room with diverse researchers, not the same old white guys everyone thinks about when they think of science, and this talk provided me with even more anecdotal and research evidence of the importance of ensure my students see diversity in technology.


  1. This is within reference to a report Gate pointed out that centered on the development of monetary bubbles in stock marketplaces. The study discovered that the existence of minority dealers suppressed the development of bubbles in the currency markets, like the casing bubble that induced the 2008 USA crash, and that these results could be reproduced in white majority nations and Asian bulk nations.

Work Cited

Gates, Sylvester J. "What unique perspectives does a minority student bring to a physics class room?" Barbara Meyers Pelson '59 Lecture in Faculty-Student Proposal, The College of New Jersey, 21 March 2017, Mayo Concert Hall, Ewing, NJ, Lecture.

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