Reading the science assignment, I feel it asks me to
1. “challenge the theories (I) have about the teaching of science” 2. “consider … the possible learning outcomes of an ‘enquiry’ approach to teaching science compared to ‘direct’ teaching” 3. include reference to underlying theory
4. refer to specific teaching situations
5. engage in critical reflective thinking
In order to challenge my theory of teaching I first need very briefly to define it. When I was taught science it was mostly through direct teaching. Any experiments performed were deductive in nature with very little input from me. When I got to college and I started performing experiments then I suddenly started having little epiphanies where facts I had learned off by heart were unexpectedly connected in ways I hadn’t understood before. So I came to think that this was what was lacking at secondary level, the experimental experience that allowed people to physically test the ‘how’ of the world around them. To put it simply people are innately curious and that exploiting this curiosity is the way to teach. From the moment they learn to talk, children constantly ask questions about everything, from “where eyebrows come from?” to “what do worms eat?” Asking questions is the way they find things out and this really is just one small step away from learning. From personal experience of teaching I think that Arnstine (1967) was correct when he said “the arousal of curiosity can lead to learning…for learning to occur, curiosity must be guided”. Designing lessons in such a way as to tap into the natural curiosity of students and to connect the topics on the curriculum with their everyday experiences is surely the best way to teach science. I find enquiry / constructivism extremely interesting as it encapsulates the whole get their attention approach but I think it’s misused by an awful lot of people. I think that analogies and real world examples need to be reflective of the scientific concept yet simple enough that the student can grasp it. Also it requires that the student be actively involved, activities must provide the opportunity to demonstrate learning. “To instruct someone... is not a matter of getting him to commit results to mind. Rather, it is to teach him to participate in the process that makes possible the establishment of knowledge. We teach a subject not to produce little living libraries on that subject, but rather to get a student to think mathematically for himself, to consider matters as an historian does, to take part in the process of knowledge-getting. Knowing is a process not a product.” (Bruner. J, The Process of Education: Towards a theory of instruction 1966: 72) So in approaching this assignment I realise that I am an ardent supporter of teaching through enquiry. I agree with Bruners theoretical framework of building on pre-existing knowledge by presenting new material in a logical manner at a level the student can understand, revisiting topic in stages and building layers of ever increasing complexity. I find the concept of a spiral curriculum to be a sensible one, but also to be at odds with the way in which individual schools plan the teaching of science. There is far too much relience on the text book, with strict adherence to the material inside. I prefer to leave the text book at home, for the student to be assigned reading and questions from it for homework so that it is new and different and provides a slightly different aspect to the same topic. At the very least it will provide the same information as was covered in class in a slightly different manner and provoke recall instead of boredom. A consequence of supporting enquiry is an aversion to direct teaching. Those who support direct teaching say that it is a highly effective method of teaching. The basic components are careful content analysis, sequencing of information and use of appropriate examples, specific instructional...