Science teachers play a central role in educating, inspiring, and guiding students to become responsible, scientifically literate citizens. Science is more than a body of knowledge and a way of accumulating and validating that knowledge. Science connotes both the knowledge contained in and the activities involved in obtaining it. Understanding the nature of Science encompasses elements of Science both as an enquiry process and as a social enterprise. Therefore, Science teaching should extend beyond the school.
The fact is that Science teachers view content and students in static, non-interactive terms. The traditional didactic approach to secondary school Science, with its emphasis on formal instruction and written presentation of information, and its highly prescriptive knowledge content, reduce children to the role of passive receivers of accumulated knowledge. In most Science courses, teaching is done by explaining relevant scientific topics, giving examples and providing practice.
The presumption is that such instruction is sufficient to make students capable of using their newly acquired knowledge effectively. If students practise only calculating answers to predictable exercises or unrealistic word problems, then that is all they are likely to learn. There is evidence today that the learning outcomes are often disappointing. The ability to understand and apply scientific concepts and processes to everyday life is vital for all students.
Role of teachers
Science teachers should make students believe that their knowledge of Science can make a difference, make students aware of the relevance of Science to their lives, and make the Science come alive by illustrating how classroom Science applies to professional laboratory. Science education requires experiments to help understand theories and sharpen skills in observing and processing. Hands-on activities are a greater way to introduce students to the world of Science.
Science teachers have exciting opportunities to teach kids about how Science makes the world work. The use of a range of teaching methods and approaches is essential when teaching Science. Making Science relevant to the lives of students requires, among a variety of other factors, a classroom environment in which they can be actively involved in making meaning of the information within a relevant context.
Science teachers need to create a suitable environment and employ strategies that encourage active questioning and identification of issues and answers by students. Sound teaching usually begins with questions and phenomena that are interesting and familiar to students, not with abstractions or phenomena outside their range of perception, understanding or knowledge. Students should be given problems – at levels appropriate to their maturity. It is important to realise that students learn at different rates and in different ways.
Students need help in making the jump from theory to application, which can be provided by giving them more experience in the procedures and processes of Science. Science teachers should secure adequate resources and materials to teach Science effectively in the classroom. They have to develop activities designed to move the learner towards deeper understandings about the learning of Science. Secondary school teachers must keep up to date with developments in their subject area, new resources, methods and objectives.
Young people can learn most readily about things that are tangible and directly accessible to their senses – visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetics. With experience, they grow in their ability to understand abstract concepts, manipulate symbols, reason logically and then generalise. Science teachers should help students to gain in understanding as much of the established body of scientific knowledge as is appropriate to their needs, interests, and capacities.
Going the extra mile
Special environments are to be provided where students can explore and learn by discovery so that they will acquire useful knowledge and even transfer their learning to other domains. Students need to get acquainted with the things around them – including devices, organisms, materials, shapes, and numbers – and to observe them, collect them, handle them, describe them, question them and find out answers to them.
Science teachers must understand that becoming an effective teacher of Science is a continuous process that requires a commitment to life-long learning. Science teachers must constantly expand their knowledge of Science and greatly improve their methods of teaching. They need to stay current on literature in Science and pedagogy and strive to be reflective practitioners who generate new knowledge and share the knowledge with others.
Science teachers have to embrace and promote their professional learning and growth so that they become active leaders and advocates for quality Science teaching. They must seek out formal and informal opportunities to learn, such as becoming active in professional associations, organising and attending conferences, taking courses and seminars, reading professional publications, and interacting with colleagues, mentors and coaches to support their personal growth.
Students benefit most by scientist/teacher partnerships because teachers gain content knowledge and into the process of scientific investigation. Scientists also gain from this relationship because they become more sensitive to the needs of Science teachers. Both form a team by merging the experience of teaching strategies and content knowledge. Students can develop a sense of how Science really happens by learning something of the growth of scientific ideas.
Science teachers need to show respect for each individual and value his or her identity and cultural heritage; display and demand respect for diverse ideas, skills and experiences of all students, as well as their unique learning needs; model and emphasise the skills, attitudes and values of scientific inquiry; and help students reflect as learners and use skills of inquiry to become effective problem solvers. They should reflect a professional image to students, parents and the community through appropriate speech, attire, and action.
Science teachers are to gain a greater understanding of the cultural fabric of the community and its relationship to achieving quality Science education for all students. Science is a social activity that incorporates certain human values.
ence relevant to the lives of all students emerges as a key aspect. Students have to develop social perspective- the influence of society on the development of Science and the impact of Science on society.