Teaching Science in the 21st century

An article by Lederman examining the state of scientific education, possible reasons for declining levels of scientific education and offering solutions caught my eye recently. As many of you are aware (ie those I study with and those who have read more than one of my blogs) I am a cynic when it comes to theoretical articles and cure alls offered by researchers who have yet to step foot in a class and teach, however I was pleasantly surprised when I read this article as it gives valid explanations on the changing aspects of scientific education and reasonably well thought out solutions.

Lederman proposes that scientific education in countries such as the US and others is falling behind due to the inability of teachers to keep pace with the scientific community; both technologically and also in terms of new rersearch. Many science teachers do not understand the science or the interconnectedness of the 3 disciplines and so the students are taught a watered down version of science.

I believe the same holds true for ICT use in schools and especially science classrooms. Anyone can use ICT in a classroom but to use it effectively requires knowledge and correct training (not just an awareness of what is out there). The same holds true with teaching pedagogy, everyone knows how to teach (just ask any parent) but only a select few are really good teachers.

So what can be done? Lederman suggests using PhD candidates to teach in schools for 3 hours a week…. this would go down like a frog in a sock (ie not well, for those of you unfamiliar with that analogy) but I think there is some merit to it. The problem would be three fold here though:

1. Getting teachers to accept a university graduate (who possibly knows more science than them) in the classroom.

2. Getting the graduates to see the benefit to their education (incentives would need to be offered).

3. Having the knowledge and transferring the knowledge is not always easy (ie just because you are smart doesn’t mean you can teach).

Our job as science teachers is beecoming increasingly more complicated and we need to find ways to approach learning that involves the students interacting with the learning (practical rather than theoretical approaches). ICT when used correctly has the potential to do just that but it requires specialist training and equipment for teachers which at this point in time is lacking in most mainstream education institutions.


What do you think? How should we teach our pre service teachers and how should they teach students?

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