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Science should be more 'glamorous'

Discussion in 'Science' started by blazer, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    GCSE scince is just so dull. They have removed all the interesting stuff and replaced it with new age, brown bread and sandals stuff that requires no practical work. The people who think up this drivel must think that because it is 'modern' it must be cutting edge. In fact the kids think that it is boring, irrelevent to them, boring, already covered in geography, RE, PE, Technology and it is boring. And I have to agree with them. The GCSE chemistry spends ages on the greenhouse effect (which they have covered every years since year 3) vegetable oils, food additives, plastic recycling. Boring, boring, boring!
  2. Agreed Blazer - give us something that we can teach interactively and then it will be less boring. Space - the kids like it for a while, but there isn't enough time to get your teeth into it and no practical. Radioactivity - sounds sexy, but actually it is dull.
  3. MarkS

    MarkS New commenter

    I agree to an extent, but with a lot of Physics it depends how it is taught...and whether the teacher is an inspiring physicist or bored/scared biologist!
    Personally, I think the worst thing to happen to GCSE Science was 'How Science Works', which really is nothing of the sort...it's just boring, and turns kids off.
  4. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    "Guest Speakers" - ah the modern idea that anyone can teach science better than a teacher it's so easy. Actually - many kids I teach are really bad at sitting and listening for any length of time, so a guest speaker would be judged pretty boring by many of them.
    HSW - dreadful stuff, good as an idea, lots of dull pot-boiling in practise.
    It's the syllabus that's rubbish. B1a - Human Biology, good for the first few lessons and then degenerates into drugs (again), alcohol (again), smoking (again) and worthy but very detached historical tales about disease.
    Please save us from "experts" and let teachers write the syllabus.
  5. m.mouse

    m.mouse New commenter

    Science has a range of wonderful and engaging aspects, but there are those which just bore children no matter what way you jazz it up! But which subject has a fully engaging curriculum? I would never be against jazzing up any subject, in my opinion that's the way the subject will evolve in the future regardless of comments from a single source (which is so unscientific I'm sure you will agree!). All it takes to make Science more glamorous is to have teachers who have more time to put effort into glamming it up!
  6. I agree with most people. Professor Green knows nothing about teaching. Most teachers are far better at engaging pupils than outside speakers.
    Besides, not every important topic is full of awe-inspiring ideas. Sometimes you just need to sit down and do some hard work. I'm an NQT and all throughout my PGCE there was this myth that doing some quiet hard work on your own was some kind of terrible punishment for kids. It's ridiculous, if anything, we over-entertain them to the point where their incapable of doing any independent work...
  7. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    My argument has always been that science shoud be seen by all, and funded, as a fully practical subject. This means half-classes, the same as traditionally enjoyed by the art and craft departments. I trained and taught with the original Nuffield schemes in the 1960s. They were fully practical, and kept it up for 40 years, even if I did not have the equipment. Tin cans, string and kitchen commodities etc. made up the deficiencies.

    Another parallel is, I think, that students should feel some sort of ownership of their investigations in science, in the same way that they feel ownership of a painting, a pot, or a cabinet, whatever. Science Fairs are a great way to do this, and great fun. Also there is a lot of glamour for you when you are demonstrating at your stand in an exhibition.

    All of this is being organised by many enthusiastic teachers, but there should be far more of it.
  8. As a biologist I personally agree with teaching food chains and food webs to every year in secondary science. Itr's a guaranteed way for them to remember how it works. The KS4 topic we do on coppicing is fantastic and so essential for them to know about. I like teaching chemistry so the same goes for the periodic table. I also agree that as students dislike physics and it has no relevance it should be dropped as a subject.We should forget teaching about radioactivity and nuclear power stations anyway because after the nuclear disater in Japan no country is going to want to use it again. Additionally all syllabuses on Space should be confined to earth anf the Moon because humans have not travelled to any other planets.
    And by the way, today is 1st April!!!
  9. Science isn't glamorous, but it is very interesting, fascinating and a source of wonder to a certain people. Some of the tat I have to teach in GCSE seems to have come straight out the mind of the kind of person who says things like 'I couldn't do science t school me, ho-ho' and then has been put in a position of responsibility for determining the curriculum. Witness the APP debacle at KS3 as well. Agree with previous posters; you need to be close to the ground to have an idea of what does and doesn't enthuse pupils.
    Could we make MPs sit entrance tests like PGCE students in maths and science before they are allowed to take up their post?
  10. chemroger

    chemroger New commenter

    To do real science requires hours of tedius experiments which often go wrong but just occasionally you find something new and exciting which makes it all worthwhile.
    Bright kids like to now the detail and hate dumbing down and there is plenty of interest in the iGCSE chemisty.
    How science work is tosh. Edexcel has remove industrial chemistry from AS to replace it with Green Chemistry. Surely the real relationship between science and society includes the chemical industry!!
    Cyberman did you realy think we should stop teaching physics!!! Surely you cannot!!!
    This Prof knows nothing but sadly people will listen to him before us!! Whats more he is politically motivated which is exactly what science education does not need.
  11. My lessons are never boring and always glamorous :)
  12. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    My lessons are always dramas!
  13. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Let's begin with the fundamentals, things we cannot change easily.

    We all accept compulsory schooling until sixteen.

    We all accept that some sort of science should be compulsory up to sixteen.

    We all accept nationally organised external examinations at sixteen.

    This examination science can easily be covered in two years, some teenagers and many adults do it in far less.

    Therefore such examination science can be optional at fourteen years old, and given a thorough grounding in science during the first three years of secondary schooling, students are well-able to choose. When they have commenced their chosen courses, they can be counselled or dismissed if they are failing or not motivated, just as in AS work, I would hope.

    Those who choose not to do any of the examination science options would take a non-examination course, continuing along the lines of the fully practical science in their first three years, and I am sure there are many teachers who are able to work with these youngsters and make it glamorous, because they would have no syllabus to follow. Drama would be an integral part of such a course, blazer! Seriously!

    I am not sure what sort of activities in 'A' level science could be described as "hours of tedious experiments which often go wrong". I trained and qualified as a physics teacher, but I had gained my chemistry 'A' level, and the hours I spent on titrations were, to me real science, and they were certainly not tedious. I was, of course, motivated. Perhaps I am choosing the wrong example.

    My point is that real science, taught well in the early years, will involve lots of things "going wrong", that is how science works. I am a great fan of Crime Scene Investigations on the TV, and there is ample glamour there, even if it is highly fanciful.
  14. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Ouch! My apologies for getting you so worked up. I certainly do not know what is what, but I have just Googled 'How Science Works' and found a lot of support for it, so I need to take nothing from you. Anyway, this thread is about making science glamorous, perhaps my references to how science works has caused us to drift. I wonder why?
  15. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    You're sounding very smug Mathsteach - I'll leave you to it.
  16. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Thank you, Mangleworzle.

    I recommend you too Google 'How Science Works', it gives over 39M hits. The top two are very interesting, one from Berkeley and the other from UK national strategies, this latter one I find is very agreeable. I also noticed the New Scientist article from 2009.

    But there is a lot there, I guess we can both learn something.
  17. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Apologies, not a spelling mistake or typo, just bad English!

    "I also recommend you to ..." is, I think, better.
  18. Interesting / dramatic / fun / sexy all depend on the individual.
    The complex details of a theory may well interest some while others will be bored rigid from the start. The answer to this over recent years has been to cross it off the specification and replace it with something easy to grasp. Unfortunately, concepts that are easy to grasp are often understood too quickly to be satisfying.
    Before deciding what is the right stuff to teach, we need to agree on what we are trying to achieve. Are we trying to keep everyone nailed down in a classroom until they can leave? Are we trying to attract the interested ones (of whatever ability) to take science to the highest level they can? Are we trying to provide a difficult hurdle to separate the academic elite? Are we trying to find the next generation of interested, dynamic scientists and engineers who are going to try to make the world a better place? We cannot do this with a one-size-fits-all approach.
    The sooner society accepts that we need to have equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome, the better. We would then be able to provide a better education for all, helping all to achieve the best they can.
    As for outside speakers, it is a nice idea but like all the STEM / triple science support / GandT initiatives (good as they may be) it is much more important to get the basic curriculum right first and then use these as a bonus rather than a substitute.
  19. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    I think I am in full agreement with you on this one, mike ryan. I have closed down the rather eristic exchange from Mangleworzel, and shifted my responses to the diversion into the resurrected thread on how science works. I think you are saying what I am saying, that teachers and individual schools need far more freedom to devise their own syllabi to be able to make science more glamorous.

    >My reference to the CSciTeach earlier in this thread was perhaps a little esoteric, and what we need is something more down-to-earth for teachers in actual classrooms (or laboratories hopefully, and half-classes!). Unfortunately I am now retired and no longer able to try things out on the present-day students. However, I was impressed by the thread here on UPD8 WIKID:


    I immediately found UPD8 and am very impressed. If I was new teacher I am sure I would be using it. I loved the forensic science topic - glamour vis-a-vis Crime Scene Investigations on the TV!


    It is only for the 11-14 age-range, whom I always found were the easiest to teach given a fully practical approach, and developing the work from their primary science experiences. However, as I have already suggested, at 14+ students are old enough to choose for themselves what sort of science they want to do. Personally I went crazy over physics at 13 years old. My father was out working at 14 years old - do we mollycoddle our teenagers today? I am here now trying to address all of the questions you pose in your post.

    Apologies for not activating the links, I do not yet know how to do it using Google Chrome.
  20. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    So all of the hot air about how science works seems to have subsided! Again I ask, I wonder why my resurrection of that thread has now slipped off the top board?

    However, my main reason for posting is to commend the last post in the thread (I guess I am gloating as well about the above a little) about UPD8 WIKID, from lauravitty. Here is an example from a true practioner, I think. Accepting some good resources, but critiques them, amends them and then gets on with the job - a true professional. It is like a breath of fresh air to read this sort of thing in TES when we visit the specialist fora.

    I notice too that UPDB addresses how science works, as do so many other published resources, is addressed successfully by other teachers, and I bet their lessons are glamorous.

    So there is a quick answer, Gail, to your thread. Suggest to teachers to look intelligently beyond the "How Science Works" strand in the National Strategies, read "Principles and Big Ideas of Science Education", ed. Professor Wynne Harlen, available from the ASE website, participate in the pending government review of NC for science, and stay professional!

    All school teaching, when practiced by professionals, can be very glamorous most of the time, I have found.

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