The last five days were without a doubt one of the best presentations ever in my life! - Sean, Rampart High School, Colorado
The class blew my mind! Usually school teaches you one theory of life, one way of knowing, one explanation for life...but this class taught me there’s more; more to life, more to our universe, more to humanity itself. I learned so much, and yet the door was left wide open for interpretation...my own explanation. I feel empowered to learn more, driven to explore, and for once, actually ready to free my mind to the world of science. - Amanda, Rampart High School, Colorado
"Awesome in the true sense of the word"; "Accessible, funny and interesting"; "He made us think and learn in an exciting way." -- ACS Hillingdon International School (UK) students
Your presentation has changed the way I see the world. Thank you. - Chazalyn, Rampart High School, Colorado
...I think that I learned more the day you gave the presentation than I have learned the entire year...I may want to be a physicist and your presentations just furthered my desire - Tyler, Scotts Valley HS, California
Your presentation was astonishingly interesting. The beginning of it was mostly review. I thought that I wouldn’t learn anything new. But then you started talking about quantum mechanics...completely blew my mind...very thought provoking, but I liked that you not only gave evidence for the atheist point of view but also the religious point of view. It was also great that you presented from an objective point of view so that those sensitive to hearing about religion in science wouldn’t be able to complain. - Eric, Scotts Valley HS, California
Thank you for your time and for your ideas. The presentation was the best thing I've been taught since I started school. - Brett, Rampart High School, Colorado
I loved the seminar you gave us last Thursday and the visit to my high school too! First of all I was so confused because before we went to your seminar, in my high school my classmates and I were investigating a little bit about the theories you explain us and I got frustrated because it is so difficult to understand all of that . So, I’m going to be sincere jeje I did not want to go to the seminar, but when I started to listen to your explanations about the topic I was amazed on how good you do that. Of course I did not understand everything so clearly, but many things were easier to understand after that. You do that in a very funny way, you try to let it be more interesting and not boring, I don’t know, I just love it the way you did it!
I had never thought in those important questions like " Why am I here?, How the Universe was created?, ...", but now, I’m so interesting on that! I want to thank you to have given to me your book, I already have started to read it and in my opinion it is the best book I have never read in my life. I have to finish to read it, but based on what I have read until now I think it can help me very much to understand in a better way all what you said. I am going to be very grateful with you the rest of my life! - Ana, Liceo Experimental Bilingue de Palmares, Costa Rica (National school - Ana is a native Spanish speaker)
I really appreciate your coming to our school to present...It was fascinating and mind-blowing at the same time. The ideas...were extremely hard to comprehend, but also made me think about them for days after. My friends and I have lively debates over the information we learned about the beginning of the universe, each of us defending our beliefs very strongly. - Hailey, Scotts Valley HS, California
Andy Fletcher’s presentation was a lot of information to take in on one day. Nevertheless, it proved to be a presentation about fascinating facts we don’t hear every day. It grabbed my attention from the beginning and held it till the very end. It provided evidence and possible answers to questions that a lot of people are searching for in this day and age. For instance, a lot of people wonder when and how the universe started, and “why are we here?” Some of the facts were almost impossible to believe, while other facts were just too fascinating for words. The topic that interested me most was the different theories about the universe (from) Newton, Einstein etc. It has inspired me and will be a great help when writing my final draft for my TOK essay. It will help me answer questions people ask me about religion. I would love to read Fletcher’s book, because I would love to know more about “Life, the universe and everything”. I also believe it’s a good thing to “listen” to other’s ideas with an open mind. Even if we don’t agree with them, we might just learn something from what they say, and this will help us and understand or criticise our own views with more insight. It could also teach us tolerance towards different people’s opinions. -- Berlene, Westwood IS Botswana
Thank you. Your presentation was truly life changing. - Paloma, Rampart High School, Colorado
“(It) was the highlight of the whole course” -- Kevin, Palmer High School, Colorado
Going into the hall on that Friday morning, I was not too enthusiastic about the hours to come. I was defensive, as I always am about this sort of thing where everything is questioned. But as soon as Andy began to talk, I mentally relaxed as he threw humour into the mix and began to baffle our minds with all sorts of ideas and facts that we had never heard of before. What truly got me more willing to listen though was the way that he began. The idea(s) all completely threw my perception of the world out the window. There is so much out there that we still do not understand and will never fully comprehend. This led to the theory of the Big Bang which I have been against my whole life. Overall, I was amazed at the way that these new ideas had broadened my perceptions to such a large extent. My faith was not attacked and I came out questioning and wanting to know more about the unknown world around me. Time, fractals, butterfly effects and mere existence itself have all got a lot to offer for the scientists who have only seen the tip of the iceberg. I want to know more. -- Kira, Westwood IS Botswana
Thank you so much for the presentation...My dad has tried explaining the age (or time) difference that occurs when you near the speed of light, however I never fully understood what he meant until you explained it. - Steve, Scotts Valley HS, California
... the presentation of Mr. Andy Fletcher’s “Universe and You” stands as a superb example of both the thinking and action that educational leaders need to embrace as we struggle against the tide of an a-la-carte mindset in the academy.
Fletcher weaves a philosophical tapestry of questions while describing in effective lay-language the latest and greatest of what we know about Gravitation, Astronomy, Cosmology and Quantum Physics. Meta-level concepts of the anthropic cosmological principle, fine tuning of fundamental constants along with Big Bang and Multiverse cosmologies are skillfully joined with current, profound debates on such notions as role of physical laws (prescriptive or descriptive) or the defining of terms like “Nothing”.
Dr. Lawrence Krauss will spend an hour explaining the definition of “Nothing”; Mr. Fletcher will present evidence that asks hard questions about Krauss’ definition. Both are needed. The bottom line here is that students need to see science presented in a philosophically engaging context; Mr. Fletcher achieves this in an entertaining way that in no way taints or trivializes the science...
J.M. Dorman, Astronomy Adjunct Instructor, Pikes Peak Community College
I’d like to thank you (the Philosophy Chair) and ... (the) Astronomy Chair for sponsoring the talk by Andy Fletcher. Fletcher presented an enjoyable and valuable perspective on the intersection of science and philosophy.
I’m sure everyone in the audience learned a great deal from Fletcher. I know I did. The physics courses that we teach here focus on classical physics, concepts developed up to the end of the nineteenth century. Then Albert Einstein and his colleagues burst the bubble of complacency, showing the world that discoveries in physics and astronomy hadn’t come to an end with Newtonian physics and Maxwell’s equations. The new discoveries that came to be known as Modern Physics brought about a revolution in the thinking of the scientific community. Quantum physics and special and general relativity changed our understanding of how very small and very rapidly moving objects interact with their surroundings.
Fletcher offered his audience a unique perspective on the world as we know it today. His discussions merged an extensive understanding of physics and astronomy with a unique appreciation of human expectations of the world around us. He showed us that the universe is totally astonishing; I’m sure he left even the most devout humanist wondering if this world could really have come about by pure accident. And he did all this by combining academic credibility with subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, humor.
Again, I am grateful to the Philosophy Department and the Astronomy Department for taking the time and effort to sponsor this presentation. The large audience came away with a much better appreciation of the world in which we all live.
George Davenport, Physics Faculty, Pikes Peak Community College
You were a great hit, popular with science, math, history, and Religion ToK teachers - no small feat. I suspect you gathered that the students found you very thought provoking and entertaining. While I had expected you'd be good, I was not expecting you to be that good or so universally received ... Again, while I knew you would be good and good for us, I had my apprehensions ... until the day after you spoke and several stopped by my office to thank me for finding you and wonder if you could return.
Robert Stern, Seisen International School, Tokyo
On behalf of our students, parents, and staff, I wanted to extend our sincerely appreciation for your coming to Bali last month.
The students are still talking about your presentation, in practically every class, and as one of our goals this year was to raise the profile of TOK amongst teachers and in our curriculum, you’ve certainly done more than a dozen staff meetings would have ever accomplished.
I do hope you’ll consider coming again next year, as the students would love to meet with you again!
Sean McAuley, IB Diploma Co-ordinator, Bali International School (now at UWCSEA Singapore)
I have just come from one of Andy's talks on the links between science and religion. It was entertaining, engaging and very funny - but better than this it was inspirational.
Whether or not you believe that science can tell us anything about religion - (I should be frank here and say that I do not) this is the perfect way to bring students into the problem and make it immediate and real for them. All the students were fascinated by his mesmerising presentation and left wanting to know more. I heard them talking about it at lunchtime; they were enthused, intrigued and in some cases enraged - but they all wanted to talk about it, to explore the ideas and to see how their beliefs stood up to the themes he presented. This was a terrific experience for the kids - even though I violently disagree with some of Andy's premises, bringing up the ideas in the way he does is, I believe, what education should be all about.
Andy is a wonderful guest speaker; I am moving schools this year and I will do my best to bring him to my new school - and I would recommend him to anyone wishing to explore the links between science and religion.
Nick Alchin, former Chief TOK Examiner, author Theory of Knowledge (Pupils' book and Teachers' Guide), Formerly at National Technological University (Singapore), California State University (Singapore campus), United World College of SE Asia (Singapore), International School of Geneva, and Sevenoaks School, Kent, UK, Dean of Studies, The Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, Kenya, now at UWCSEA Singapore
I just wanted to express my appreciation for the quality of your presentations both of which were wonderfully inspirational as well as provocative. I keep bumping into IB ToK students who are clearly buzzing from the experience. I thought today's Y12 presentation was particularly stimulating and it will no doubt lead to a lot of wholesome discussion when we meet as a class again. I also liked how the topic was ultimately a fusion of AOKs and WOKs into one coherent whole. I now appreciate why having my office in the top of the New Building has put me into a different time zone from my colleagues based in the main building on the main floor. I hope we can arrange a return booking for next year at some point for the next cohort of star dust.
Robyn Tyner, Director of IB Studies, International School of Geneva (La Chat campus)
The effects of our ToK retreat have lingered (in all the most positive ways). The kids still talk about you and the depth of knowledge that you brought to the table. We have two beautiful bulletin boards (one for grade 11 and one for grade 12) in our courtyard which draw many visitors. It was, as I stated to the board, likely the best planned, most engaging field trip I've been on in 16 years of education - with your talk as the centerpiece of the experience.
Jim Canavan, High School Principal, International School Phnom Penh, Cambodia (now at IS Amsterdam)
Andy Fletcher accompanied our annual ToK Retreat in September 2007. Andy spoke to our Grade 11 and 12 students for approximately 12 hours over those 3 days. For the most part, his presentation drew ideas, findings, and thought experiments from the field of Quantum Physics. The delivery of information was carefully structured and timed so students were led, guided, and pushed, through the ways in which conventional understandings of the universe and life within, have been challenged by the theories and discoveries of this emerging area of human inquiry. This enormously difficult content was presented by Andy in ways that thoroughly engaged, excited, and inspired most, if not all, of our students.
Andy's presentation format, using pacing techniques, images, very enticing video segments, and a humorous warmth, allows students the mental and emotional spaces to ponder and enjoy interesting and challenging ideas, and to feel motivated to enter the discussion that Andy was presenting to us. Many students asked many questions throughout the presentations, and very often, these students were the ones who usually do not have their hand up in class. The ToK teachers were particularly happy to see both boys and girls from different ends of the academic achievement spectrum engage deeply with the presentations. For our ESL students, some of the language was a blur, and could have used segments for review or perhaps some of the language and ideas might have been previewed prior to Andy's arrival. Yet these students were able to engage with the imagery and visual aspects which were a major component of their mind-blowing experience. The presentation could also benefit with segments facilitated by the ToK teachers, which would serve to summarise and explicitly connect the ideas to ToK concepts, identifying Knowledge Issues and making links to the Ways of Knowing. ISPP will trial this structure next time.
The ideas that Andy presents, and the processes by which Science has arrived at these ideas, provide a rich source for examples, to both introduce ToK concepts to Grade 11 students, and extend or consolidate the under-standings of the Grade 12s. Several of our ToK essays have utilised this opportunity. Andy was extremely generous with his kind attention to inquiring students (of which there were many) outside of his presentation times, as well as with his willingness to share resources that he has gathered or created. Prior to our next Retreat, these will be used as preview material for our ESL students and intellectual fodder for other students to construct questions. If we can coordinate it with other schools in the region, ISPP hopes to invite Andy to our ToK Retreat every second year, with our other year having a focus on the Arts and Ethics. Without hesitation, I happily recommend Andy Fletcher and his presentation on Life, The Universe, and Everything to schools looking for a way to enliven, enrich, and engage ToK for students of the IB.
Lance Jackson, TOK Teacher, International School Phnom Penh, Cambodia (now at ETV Cambodia)
Andy Fletcher is a gifted presenter who I would welcome into the Seoul Foreign School TOK class without hesitation. Through his presentations he challenges IB students to contemplate the nature of knowledge and of our world, focusing on the very core of the focus of a theory of knowledge course. As a (former) teacher at international schools he fully understands both international students and the value of the Theory of Knowledge course. He has presented at international school conferences and been invited into numerous TOK classrooms in the US and throughout the world. I believe that he would add meaningfully to the TOK course taught at any international school and recommend him unreservedly. He will stimulate and challenge your students’ perceptions and beliefs in ways that enhance the effectiveness of what I believe to be one of the most important components of the IB program, the Theory of Knowledge.
Harlan E. Lyso (retired), Head of School, Seoul Foreign School; Board Member/Treasurer, East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS) (now with International Schools Services)
Having just spent a week with (Andy Fletcher), I feel compelled to write and express my utter delight and gratification for his efforts in my high school classroom. (He) guest-lectured in my classroom for four days last week. It was a daunting task. His topics were culled from post-modern science, including Einsteinian relativity, quantum mechanics, chaos theory, and complexity theory.
Andy's knowledge base for these complex and ill-understood science topics is incredible. Not only has he command of the subject matter, but he has the ability, as the gifted teacher he is, to relate the information in a fun, informative, and, most importantly, relational manner. While he is judicious, as he should be, about overtly referencing issues of faith, he weaves a compelling story about how the topics of 20th century science can lead to rigorous self-questioning about creation, religion, and one's place in the universe.
I have taught for twenty-two years and received several teaching awards myself, so I recognize quality teaching when I see it. Andy was absolutely spell-binding. I found myself in awe of this master teacher taking my students on a most exciting and worthwhile journey -- Andy created some magic moments in my classroom.
Dr. John Kistler, Palmer High School, Colorado (now ret.)
This is a very brief note to say very hearty and genuine thanks to you for your visit to this strange part of the world. From our point of view it was a real highlight: educational, enjoyable, stimulating and provocative and will, I know, have made a lasting mark on our lads and lasses. Neil and James have already been using the DVDs in TOK and Mark has asked to use them for his biology: naturally I will be drawing upon material in them for my physics and chem. too. I particularly want to use the chaos one with my year 10 class to stretch their minds a little beyond the mundanities of IGCSE Coordinated Science!
Glynn Morgan, then at Academia Británica Cuscatleca, Santa Tecla, El Salvador (ret.)
Many thanks for the stimulating seminars. I am sure the students who come to school today were not expecting to be so mentally challenged and fascinated on their last day of school for the term.
Mike Rice, United World College of South East Asia, Singapore
You were correct! I have received parent feedback re: your presentation here at Ridgeview in February. The consensus was that they've never seen their kids so animated about what went on in school. The feedback from both juniors and seniors was extremely favorable, except for the all-day session and lack of AC in the library. One young lady's comment summed it up for all: "Biology is my science area. For me to listen to 6 hours of physics and not be bored -- it had to be awesome!" They have asked to have you back again next year. I am writing your presentation into my budget for next year.
Vickie Bandy, Ridgeview High School, Orange Park Florida USA
You were the "Buzz" of the school today. Two teachers wanted to know why I hadn't invited them and their classes. My kids were feeling especially smart today. Some said their brains hurt because they couldn't understand space-time. But they sure remembered what you said! It was fabulous. Thank you so very much. We want you to come back. We will give you the assembly hall if you want more kids. But I still want the small-group for MY kids. They deserve the best and rarely get it - until yesterday!
Margaret Wilber, then at Colorado Springs Early Colleges, Colorado Technical University
The reports were really good and as a school we really enjoyed your input - it was quite special. Moreso, it was really thought provoking and entertaining. As one of the students said "compared to last years conference the material much more difficult but somehow much more engaging." Students really had a massive boost in Science and the staff that attended all left feeling that it was one of the best training days they had ever had. It really was Science at its most interesting and engaging and most thoughtful.
I have spoken with my colleagues and we are extremely interested in inviting you to return next academic year.
Ian Davies, IB Coordinator, British International School, Jakarta Indonesia
Your visit sparked the most conversation outside the classroom than any other lesson that I know of.
Mary Beth Kiley, IB Coordinator, International School Aberdeen, Scotland
He made listeners stop and think. Whether or not they believe that religion does have a place in science doesn't matter. He made the kids think and question themselves about their own beliefs. My students did not know what to think about his presentations. They thought that they would be dull, boring and uninteresting. Instead, they were amazed that they were enthused and intrigued and in some cases, enraged about the ideas and concepts in his presentations. His ability to bring the complex theories down to our level was amazing. I can see that he was a gifted teacher because he has the ability to relay the information in a fun, informative and relational manner while also being entertaining.
Bettye Francis, IB Program/ADP Coordinator, Mt. St. Mary Academy, Little Rock AR USA (ret.)
The presentation was bound to be controversial given the current state of affairs and the subject: science and religion. (He) took us from the assumptions of Newton's theory to Einstein, quantum physics, chaos theory, the butterfly effect and complexity in an easy-to-understand fashion...Students talked about the presentation for some time. On the day, we had already extended the session by another forty minutes but some students stayed for a further forty! The seminars made our students think and reminded them that learning and thinking are both interesting and provocative...It was a great pleasure to note that a number of parents also attended and that AP and other students for whom the seminars were not mandatory were there for the full sessions. All in all, this was a most successful venture for ACS Hillingdon.
Bernadette Clare, ACS Hillingdon International School, UK