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Readers Respond: Top Concerns of Science Teachers

Responses: 4


What are your top concerns as a science teacher? What troubles you? What is unique about your curriculum that you just wish teachers from other curriculum areas understood? Share your thoughts here.

Everyone needs labs

I disagree with Attitudes on his final point. Everyone needs labs. For those that learn kinesthetically it is the only way they can understand a concept. Also, everyone needs to understand the uncertainty of science and the scientific process. You can't get that from a book; you have to participate in science. If a demonstration or experiment "doesn't work" it is the golden opportunity to look at those human and experimental sources of error. Students should question their results, always, and they should always question someone else's results. You can't learn that from a book or a lecture.
—Guest ruth.hund

Scary Trends

I think many science teachers would be surprised at some of the anti-science trends in the world at large. Some of the material and video lectures available through the Richard Dawkins Foundation highlight some of this anti - science. This SHOULD be a great concern to anyone involved (a) in education (b) in science - so is particularly worrying. When people at large are more inclined to believe superstitious explanantions such as Intelligent Design and other such mumbo jumbo - its time ofr a serious re think. If we´re not careful the next generation will have us go back to living in caves and worshipping imaginary friends from the sky!
—Guest robdee

From Queensland Australia

Without a great understanding of curriculum structure in other educational systems, I would like to add these comments from my perspective of my system. The main concern I have is the mismatch between teaching, assessment and reporting. We are expected to encourage students to "work like scientists" using inquiry learning. This is extremely labour intensive and depends on advanced teacher knowledge of content and teaching strategies. It is also necessary for students to have skills in information literacy, literacy, mathematics and time manegment that they may not have. Our assessment is becoming more content based ie "What do you know" rather than "What can you do with what you know". Our reporting is a 5-point scale that does not reflect the criteria we are supposed to use for assessing. To compound our difficulties, we are in the process of developing a national curriculum for science (and other subject areas) that may overide this. We certainly live in interesting times!


This is a well-constructed top-ten list. All of these problems have at their locus a misunderstanding of the unique nature of science education. Possible solutions? 1) Zero tolerance for discipline infractions in the science lab, with the teacher, not the principal, as the final arbiter. Consequence of infraction is expulsion from the lab for the semester. 2) Science labs forming an additional component of science courses, like at colleges or universities. Each worth another teaching section and entitlement to prep time. 3) Due to the safety implications of prerequisite knowledge, minimum of 70% in prerequisite courses, and successful pass of prior learning assessment to take a course. 4) Maintain "class-only" labs for everyone else, to ensure the general public receives a general science education. Most problems enumerated by Ms Kelly would be by these simple, legal solutions. But the political will needs to exist — territory uncomfortable for many science teachers.

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