Premier Science Education in the U.K.
Physics presents many conceptual difficulties for learners, and the teacher has to balance the desire to teach good science with the need to pitch material at a level such that pupils can cope. There will always be a compromise between the depth and range of material we would wish to cover, and what pupils are likely to be able to successfully understand in the time available. Part of a teacher's job, therefore, is to re-interpret curriculum content for pupils. Decisions have to be made about the level of detail and complication that is appropriate to be true to both the subject and the learners. It is argued here that, whilst simplification is necessary, a point will be reached where the logical structure of the subject is compromised. It is suggested that recent recommendations in Physics Education about teaching heat and temperature may have reached such a point.
Keith Taber, Professor, Science Education and Programme Manager for the part-time PhD in Education, University of Oxford
Keith Taber trained as a graduate teacher of chemistry and physics, and taught sciences in comprehensive secondary schools in England. He moved into further education where he taught physics and chemistry to A level, science studies to adult students, and research methods on an undergraduate education programme. He acted as the mentor for trainee science teachers on placement at the college. Whilst working as a teacher he earned his masters degree for research into girls under-representation in physics and his doctorate for research into conceptual devleopment in chemistry. He joined the Faculty of Education in 1999.
Dr. Taber was the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) Teacher Fellow for 2000-1, undertaking a project on Challenging Chemical Misconceptions (http://www.chemsoc.org/networks/learnnet/miscon2.htm). He was the CERG (Chemical Education Research Group) Lecturer for 2000. He writes a column (Reflections on Teaching and Learning Physics) for the journal Physics Education. He led the Cambridge project on teaching about ideas and evidence in science for the National KS3 Stategy (http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/keystage3/casestudies/cs_sc_ideas
Dr. Taber is the moderator of an international electronic discussion list on learning in science. This list is intended as a forum for discussion among teachers, researchers and others who are interested in aspects of this topic. You may join the list at:http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/learning-science-concepts/