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Can anyone tell me how science teaching changed in the last 10 years?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by Sesquipedalian, May 10, 2019.

  1. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    Sorry I've rather gone away from the original question.

    One change is more emphasis on memorising facts. Notably in physics GCSE they have to remember a lot of formulae which used to be given, which causes problems for some students. Strangely most of the formulae they had to learn for GCSE are then given to them for A level.
    Sesquipedalian and agathamorse like this.
  2. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    They wouldn't need to be so reactive? :)
  3. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    On basis of this and other posts, I really hope science does not go the same way as DT with very little practical. By the same token there are more people saying that schools are teaching a too narrow curriculum with less art, music and generally too much thought going into passing exams.
    Sesquipedalian and agathamorse like this.
  4. Sesquipedalian

    Sesquipedalian New commenter

    I have noticed a general disdain for practical work. It makes a total mockery out of science!

    I should also add STEAM and the abolishment of Assessment Levels to the list.
    topquark likes this.
  5. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    The new Science GCSE is awful and demoralizing to teach.

    Students do not seem to want to do practicals any more

    I'm retiring soon - I can't wait.
    Sesquipedalian and agathamorse like this.
  6. Robfreeman

    Robfreeman Occasional commenter

    The specification is much more detailed and requires far more planning with less room to show originality and creativity. Much more tell them it answer the questions then giving the students the opportunity to find out the answer.

    Also the nature of the teacher coming through the system has changed (I stand by for flak from this comment). Far more accepting less questioning less challenging of the system then there was once. Some may think this is good i dont as sometimes changes only happen when the system is challenged.

    The child also seems to be much less resilient and lacking in the skills for practical work or independent thought. Im not sure how this can be addressed.
  7. theknowledgereview

    theknowledgereview New commenter

    Science is a subject to be studied by experimenting.It is a subject dealing wit the practical knowledge based on the experiments carried out in the laboratories.
    Know more about biomedical colleges: http://bit.ly/2JTB3G7
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2019
  8. topquark

    topquark New commenter

    I am also getting worried about this trend and I'm working outside the UK! I have noticed a change in attitude from colleagues who have recent UK experience - practical science seems to be at the bottom of their priority list. Whereas, when I started teaching a few decades ago, science teaching was all about demos, investigations, projects, discovery and students would bring in equipment they had prepared at home. These days, if a student did this, they'd probably get arrested on suspicion of making a harmful device.

    In my last three lesson observations, I prepared investigations and demos which I'm sure my colleagues are not capable of preparing and guess what ? SLT did not mention any word of the practical science in their observation notes - it was as if the practical science was a sort of inconvenience like a class register or fire drill.

    Although I must admit - sometimes good/bad practical science can cause unexpected fire drills.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
    ViolaClef, border_walker and blazer like this.
  9. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I'm not a science teacher, but...

    I was helping some students prepare for GCSE Biology the other week, and it struck me that a lot of questions were nothing to do with Biology. It was almost like a Maths paper - there were questions on interpreting graphs/correlations, and scaling things (e.g. how big the image would be when you looked through a microscope). I pointed this out to a science-teacher colleague and he said, "Well, they wanted the new GCSEs to be harder, and you can't make Biology harder so they just stuck some Maths in it!"

    The other thing that struck me is that I could remember more from my 1985 O level in Biology than they actually needed to know now. All the detail had gone - where we had to know about leucocytes and lymphocytes, for example, they only had to know about white blood cells, and they only had to know what clotting was, where we had to know about thrombokinase, fibrin, fibrinogen, we had to remember the chemical equation for photosynthesis, etc.
    blazer likes this.
  10. border_walker

    border_walker Lead commenter

    Not sure if still true, but I recall it being quoted that Biologists were the biggest users fof computers because of the modelling / maths involved.
  11. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    Yes, computational biology is a thing, but presumably you need to know the biology first?
  12. tenpast7

    tenpast7 Occasional commenter

    You might have to learn to work in a more prescriptive manner and follow the latest "one-size fits all" model.
  13. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I tutor students from a number of different schools. Most of the seem to do little or no practical work at GCSE. It seems watching a youtube video is considered adequate instead. I think this is the result of lack of proper science teachers and poor behaviour of the pupils. One boy told me they didn't do any practicals as all the equipment would get stolen.
  14. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I can beleive that. One school I supplied in last year I tried to do practical with yr 9. They were using stopwatches. The boys threw them on the floor and stamped on them!
  15. maggie m

    maggie m Senior commenter

    Computers are big in biology. Daughters PhD in biochemistry involved producing an in silico (computer) model of drug transporters as well as lab work.
  16. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    There are science vacancies advertised, as I have applied for twelve local positions since May. None have bothered to acknowledge my applications. I suppose being an experienced science teacher does not help. :(

    I would interested to know which school this is, @maggie m
  17. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Well....teaching itself is very much the same..... but has to be done around recent policy changes....
    Schools are busy holding formal lessons on knife crime as directed by the dfe.
    So it’s no surprise that some science teachers will not take a risk where practical equipment may be used to harm others or basic safety instructions are routinely ignored because it’s not ‘fun’.
    We have an increasing number of teachers turning to leadership to escape or reduce the madness of spending all day in the classroom locked in with 33 or so teenagers with a very wide range of needs and abilities and abusive backgrounds.
    And where any attempt to raise student achievement and behaviour is met with scorn and toxic streams of career ending complaints from their parents........
    Those who went into leadership are now trapped in the world of preparing detailed curriculum ‘documents’ designed by the SLT member in charge who wants every subject document to look the same........ (I believe they spend a number of unproductive hours renaming these very very important documents new age titles e.g. learning mats, curriculum organisers etc...) ...in the hope that even those who once hated the subject will now teach/learn it if this is laid out for them in a different format........ and OFSTEd will be happy that everyone is doing the ‘same thing’.
    Does it help the behaviour issues.... errr no ..... because people who should be helping support the behaviour are sitting glued to their computers preparing these OFSTEd proof documents every free moment they have, which are supposedly replacing well known published text books and revision guides and are in fact copied versions of them with school stamps and logos.
    It’s becoming the norm to collect this new evidence of their skills....
    Now that demanding detailed macro lesson plans from individual teachers and carrying out X factor style observations is no longer a popular way of increasing workload!
    anenome2 and tenpast7 like this.
  18. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    Your colleague was either trying to make a joke or doesn't really understand what Biology is. Biology is a science and like all sciences it requires collection and analysis of data, always has done and always will. There might be more descriptive aspects in Biology then in other sciences but then I expect a Physicist would argue otherwise.

    Throughout my time as a science teacher I did notice there was a lot less practical work being done in later years. Experiments seemed to be replaced by "cut and stick" activities, IT project work etc. Reasons for this could be: more Health and Safety concerns, a decline in behaviour and costs of running practicals. As a result students could get to year 11 and beyond with virtually no practical skills. Its a bad move in my opinion.
  19. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    There is an Ofqual reqquirement for maths content at GCSE and A Level. The level of Maths required, and the proportion of marks allocated, are handed down to Awarding Bodies by Ofqual. It's stated in the specifications.
    What's also happened is that a lot of new material has come in especially at A Level. For the really old among us, who can remember the last time antheridia and archegonia were in an exam paper?
  20. starmandave

    starmandave New commenter

    These days outside presenter such as chemistry shows, animal shows and mobile planetariums such as https://www,.mobile-planetarium.co.uk can help add the wow facotr to science lessons

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