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Pretending not to know anything?

Discussion in 'Science' started by Jenerena, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. I'm asking this because I've always wondered whether one of my approaches to teaching (particularly science) is appropriate, even though it seems effective. I have a tendency to pretend I don't know about something, and that I'm curious as to what it might be. For example, I'll see a shadow behind me and act like I'm scared, as if I don't know what it actually is. The children would then be eager to tell me that it's only my shadow. I like to say things like 'but surely...' to correct misconceptions, such as 'but surely the moon is a light source because it's lit up right?'
    The problem is, it doesn't look good to children if I don't know what it is (even though I do really). The children should really see me as 'knowing everything' right? I know it's a strange question, but does anyone else do this in their teaching? I know scientific enquiry is about investigating, exploring etc and I feel if I'm doing it with them they'll be more engaged, and I have seen this happen.
    I'm a trainee teacher by the way!
  2. PinkHelen

    PinkHelen New commenter

    I do something similar on occasion, and it does get the kids eager to explain things. I'm sure they'll be able to tell that you're acting/joking, and I'm sure you praise them at the end when they've got to the correct answer - then they know you actually do know what you're talking about.

    You should feel pleased with your creative and engaging teaching - don't worry![​IMG]
  3. I can only agree with the comment above.
    I quite often act / say that I don't know something so that the class can tell me, but like you correcting misconceptions / wrong ideas often by making them think about it a bit more and trying to explain it.
  4. missmunchie

    missmunchie New commenter

    This is known as Socratic Irony.
    Socrates would pretend to be ignorant of the topic under discussion, in order to draw out the inherent nonsense in the arguments of his interlocutors. Chambers dictionary has: "a means by which a questioner pretends to know less than a respondent, when actually he knows more."
  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    I managed to convince a year 2 class that someone had stolen the water we left on a dish in the sunlight.
    Eventually someone mentioned evaporation[​IMG]
  6. Have you thought about concept cartoons as a way to challenge misconceptions? This way you don't always have to plead ignorance.
  7. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    I agree with all the excellent points above, this technique is enormously effective. From your post I'm sure you have the makings of a great teacher.

    Absolutely no personal reflection on you, but I'm worried about the quality of your teacher training if you needed to ask the question!

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