“why is Science hard to teach”?
Got two words for that:
The other day, when I found myself mentioning to students ‘I’d been teaching for longer than they’d been breathing’, I realized that, despite the long time, the challenges of teaching Science were always there…
I could list here various reasons for those difficulties: perhaps students have persistent preconceptions (especially misconceptions); lack previous life experiences (including those they might have missed in school) that would have provided valuable background information on the topic; maybe even a limited ability in the math skills needed for a particular subject; difficulty understanding abstract ideas; all that together requires a lot of extra strategic teaching skills from the teacher. If the majority of these difficulties are not addressed, in one way or another, students may end up developing even more misconceptions and more gaps in their learning…
So, maybe, teaching Science is harder than learning it? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to this question, and would gladly accept suggestions and/or guidance… Teaching is already hard enough by itself. When we add to the pot a series of misleading concepts, which aren’t all untrue in their nature, but extremely challenging to explain and to be understood, then, the boiling conclusion teachers have to face are serious instructional dilemmas!
But, hey! Although hard to admit, some concepts are not as easy to teachers as we may try to sell them to students! [guilty smiles!]
One common fact is that the more abstract a Science topic is, the harder it is to learn for many people, including us, teachers! Telling Science to students is not teaching Science.
We all, students or not, learn by “doing” Science, and abstract topics need to be made concrete. The question is: ‘How?” How to transform concepts such as “the flow of matter and energy in ecosystems“, “matter and its transformations“, “Earth’s shape and gravity“, and understanding changes in motion – into something more concrete? Luckily, for these questions in particular, if you are curious, feel free to visit the “Hard-to-teach Science Concepts“, a great discussion-book for teachers and committed parents. Students are better able to face their misconceptions and preconceptions when they are engaged in instructional activities, placing Science into a context they are capable of understanding…
If learning Science is considered to be difficult, the reverse activity, the act of passing on your life and academic experiences, your knowledge, your discussion points, through teaching sessions, is also challenging! And as Carl Sagan once stated (see box above), offering our students and our children a “shrug” as a possible answer, could just be the path of least resistance, but definitely, may not work in the long run when attempting to raise intellectually motivated students – that being in Science or in any other academic field.
Good luck to us all, Science teachers or not, and I’m wrapping this ‘brainstorming’ post up, with a very optimistic smile… :o
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