Being a science teacher comes with a lot of difficulties that do not exist in the other disciplines. Many things about the nature of science make it somewhat complicated and difficult to teach. It is important to acknowledge these complexities and areas of difficulty in order to be a successful science teacher.
Teaching science can be objectively difficult. If you do not know, I will inform you. In teaching science you are teaching both content and processes of research/lab methodology. Now I am not saying that other disciplines do not have to simultaneously teach content and processes, what I am saying is that in science both of these things are so paramount that they are of equal and full importance. This is just one aspect of science that can make it ridiculously hard to teach, on top of all the complications that come with having your own classroom.
What I think…
In my opinion I think that science is more rooted in creativity than knowledge of content. I say this because one can LEARN content, but one cannot LEARN to be creative, necessarily. Creativity is important in keeping things fresh essentially. Sometimes the content we are trying to teach as science educators can be so dry and boring and it is up to the educator to devise a creative way to get the content across. And this is where the biggest difficulty I see in science teaching formulates.
We are taught that the most important thing we can do in a classroom is keep our students engaged in content, while effectively getting that content across to them. However, when we are trying to get creative in the classroom sometimes content can be loss. This is when we science educators reach a crossroads. Is it more important that our students are engaged in our content, or is it more important that they are able to reciprocate the knowledge on some form of assessment?
Inevitably the nature of being an educator creates conflict between these two sides. On one hand we educators want our students to know and value our content, but also be engaged. In this day in age when teachers are so heavily evaluated and scrutinized based on state mandated assessments sometimes the student engagement falls shorts. This is because we are stuck in the paradigm as educators that lectures are the only way to get knowledge and content across to your students. As you may have guessed, lectures are also super BORING….
Even though this example may satirize the traditional classroom lecture a tad, who can not at least somewhat identify with the disinterested, day dreaming, aloof, and indifferent faces of the students in (or not in) the classroom. This is what we need to avoid in a science classroom.
Students can also have a tough time relating to content in science. It is important to me, as someone who fancies himself a constructivist, to have my content relate to the students. However, often times students have the attitude that the content is over their head or it is not actually important to them. The easiest way to combat this is by using real world examples of the content and scientific processes. When your students can see your content in the world around them, because of examples that you provided , they will then have a more firm grasp then if they were not able to relate it to their lives.
What Other People Think…
Although this discussion from high school science teacher, Tyler Dewitt does not directly address the issues, he discusses the solution. Inevitable through his discussion he expresses some difficulties that he has had as a teacher making lesson plans, and also issues the students have with his content. Mr. Dewitt does a wonderful job of discussing the issues in science teaching while proposing a solution.
Here Hank Green, who frequently makes appearances in science classrooms because of his science educational videos, discusses why fewer people are going into STEM fields. The discussion that he has on why people don’t choose these fields as a career is still relevant to the issues in teaching science. He expresses the opinions of the disinterested students that are sitting in our classrooms.
Science is at the crux of innovation and solving some of the worlds biggest problems. However, the attitude many people have towards science as a whole can cause some to become disinterested in the discipline completely. As a future science educator I aim to combat these difficulties discussed in this blog while also creating future scientists, innovators, and contributing members to society along the way and you should do the same.
Still waiting for someone to say teaching science isn’t difficult……