Differing Perspectives: Science and Culture

The world has never been as simplistic as ‘right’ or ‘wrong, and not every answer is within a structured binary. Scientists acknowledge that science is not objective fact, rather, it is ever changing ideas of how we describe natural phenomena with the knowledge that we currently have. Theories, not facts, that are subject to change as we gather more data. A scientific lens is not the only way in which we have come to understand the Earth. Differing perspectives and unique ideas are ways in which we learn and grow. As educators, it is our responsibility to create safe spaces for all of our students, regardless of their preconceptions that may contradict our subject areas. So how can we both teach and respect student’s perspectives? 

Respecting Differing Perspectives

  • Acknowledge that science is not the ‘end all, be all’ answer for everything.
  • Help students understand that science is more than content; but a way of thinking critically and curiously. 
  • Listen to your students – make sure your students know their beliefs are still important, Science is another layer of information they can use to develop their own perceptions of life. 
  • Emphasize that things such religion and spirituality are not exclusive to science. 

While respecting students’ beliefs is very important, it is also crucial to dispel misconceptions students have about science.

Common misconceptions

  • Season are caused by the Earth’s distance from the sun 
  • Humans only use 10% of their brain
  • Dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans 
  • Water drains in opposite directions depending on the hemisphere you’re in
  • The Earth is flat

How to negate misconceptions

  • Provide inquiry based opportunities to explore difficult concepts
  • Create a classroom where students feel comfortable to speak up and discuss their thoughts
  • Make thinking visible in your classroom

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  1. Hi! I really enjoyed reading your blog post! I agree with what you said. One thing that stood out to me was providing inquiry-based opportunities for the students to help them with their misconceptions. I think this is a great way to do so. I think in order for the students to learn the most they have to be engaged in the misconception. There is a lot of learning in a misconception so doing inquiry based tasks would be a great way to help the students!

  2. Jack I really liked your idea to include inquiry with a misconception to allow students to uncover it themselves. I think this is a great way to eliminate misconceptions as quickly as possible. One question I did have is what if the inquiry ends up leading them back to the misconception. How and when does the teacher step in?

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