Professor Julius Sumner Miller

When I was a young lad, having been raised on television as I was, I adored a Saturday morning show called The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. It aired on – as was produced by – CHCH TV in Hamilton, and it was a classic. I didn’t realize until I was a teenage that most of the roles were played by one man – Billy Van.

One of the other people on the show was Professor Julius Sumner Miller – an American popularizer of science. What I loved about him, and continue to love, was his devotion to curiosity. As an older viewer, and one who has thought a fair amount about teaching practice, I am struck by a few things: first, how he refuses to simplify his language for children (debatable, but I am inclined to agree to his basic assumptions); and second, how even though he is instructing directly, he’s doing so in a way that allows a sense of discovery. I’ve written before about the seeming contradictions between discovery and directed instruction, and I think Miller demonstrates that some of the best discoveries are made with quite a bit of direction.

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