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Since when and why are we expected to be such damn experts in ALL THREE SCIENCES?!

Discussion in 'Science' started by ScienceQueen25, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. ScienceQueen25

    ScienceQueen25 New commenter

    Since when and why are we expected to be such damn experts in ALL THREE SCIENCES?!

    Because back in my day of doing GCSEs in the 90s and in either countries to, teachers were/are a teacher in their chosen science, now here's the kicker just to make our lives even more pained- we must be frigging experts in ALL the SCIENCES and BE DAMNED, OUSTED, BERATED or potentially labelled incompetent if you don't!!!
    ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! ****************!!

    I thought i'd let it out here amongst those who understand and out of the school, I Google this topic and I don't know if i'm using wrong keywords or what but I feel new in mentioning this!....surely I am not! but I do just want to start this discussion and get it off my chest; as I am starting out in teaching and unfortunately, am teaching the science I have only a few months experience in and am not passionate about but am damnwell trying my darnedest....NO ONE CAN ACCUSE ME OF NOT TRYING HERE!! to the point of loosing sleep and making silly spelling mistakes on the whiteboard and computer slides because its taking me my all to re-learn this subject and try to sell it and make the GCSE kids understand it to.

    and breathe....... :)
    ellisb58 likes this.
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    However qualified teachers are just that - qualified teachers, not qualified physics teachers or whatever. In principle we can be asked to teach anything!
    Now where schools manage to recruit sufficient teachers with specific science knowledge and skills, they may well be able to timetable physicists to teach physics and geologists to teach geology, but that's not always possible. I
    I do think we all need to be prepared to learn new material (much of what is in the Biology A Level course, for example, was unknown when the more "senior" of us were undergraduates......
    wanet likes this.
  3. Jeroniymo

    Jeroniymo New commenter

    Speaking as someone who is having to learn how to teach parts of the A-level biology, A-level PE and even some stuff on no other Science course for the Applied General in Science I understand your frustration.

    I love learning the stuff .... in my mind though - If we are asked to teach out of specialism (And in Science I think 2 out of 3 should be considered specialisms) I believe we should be given extra time to plan and learn.
    bonxie likes this.
  4. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I have an 'O' level in biology, which, let's be honest, is about 1st year degree level these days. So what's the beef?
  5. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I've made up all the biology I've ever taught. I don't even have an O level.
    However, I have the capacity to learn and have taught all three sciences since 1982.
  6. maggie m

    maggie m Senior commenter

    Not sure what your problem is. My degree is biological sciences but it required a good back ground in chemistry and to a lesser extent physics and maths. I have taught biology to A level for years and have had to learn the new stuff like epigenetics as it wasn't known when I was an undergraduate. I have taught A level physics which I really enjoyed ( to my suprise) in some ways being a non physicist was an advantage as I had to think extra carefully about how I explained things to the students.Teaching all three sciences to GCSE isn't that difficult but then I did O levels which were much more like the current GCSE than the watered down stuff we have been teaching for years.
    Moony and wanet like this.
  7. isitjustme

    isitjustme New commenter

    I totally understand how overwhelming it is to be expected to be an expert in all 3 sciences. Teaching is challenging in itself let alone trying to learn new concepts that pop up from time to time. I don’t know how the department in your school is organised or how supportive it is but don’t be afraid to ask for help from your colleagues,sometimes we are only ahead of the students by a page in the text book... and that is good enough because, after a short while you will become more confident and more experienced and more expert. It is true that if you struggle to learn something but managed to get your head around it, YOU will naturally teach it better. I have been teaching for over 20 years and teaching is a craft. I still pre test most of my experiments and take some equipment home to practice with because I find certain physics concepts difficult. The main thing is not to be too hard on yourself. You’re doing a great job and it is evident that you care very much.
  8. SilverMayFall

    SilverMayFall New commenter

    Have you asked your colleagues who are specialists in the other two sciences for help?

    I'm sure they would be happy to share resources and support you?

    I've always found colleagues more than willing to do this.

    Good luck.
    wanet likes this.
  9. Goat2

    Goat2 New commenter

    Depends what you mean by 'expert' ! Surely you can cope with all three at KS3 and most of KS4. Now those of us who were properly trained in the 1960's with 3 year Cert Eds were prepared to teach the three subjects, after all we were training to be science teachers. I've managed to teach A level Chemistry having failed it due to the quality of the Cert Ed training I received, granted Physics wouldn't touch with a barge pole but then ended teaching Forces etc to D&T undergrads.
    Basically human-up and enjoy it and if you really want a challenge try teaching the curriculum set out for Nursery/Reception !!
    Moony likes this.
  10. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    There are more than three sciences though! It's not just chemistry, biology and physics even though those are the ones focused on in schools.

    That being said there do exist some books, old **** ones I believe maybe, to do with theaching each of those as a non specialist.
  11. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    Geology is a niche subject in schools though.
  12. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    I must admit I always find it amusing when people flap over teaching their non specialist science. As a geologist I was teaching my non specialist science most of the time, flip side of that is being a geologist made me a very happy and competent jack of all trades in science.
  13. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I have no problem teaching the theory part of Bio/Chem. But I just don't have the experience or the knowledgeor the passion to do it as well as I teach Physics. I can't make the same real life connections, I can't easily think up analogies and relevant activities or alternative explanations when children struggle. I really believe I'm a great teacher of physics, but with Biology I'm no better than satisfactory. Chemistry probably depends what part of it I'm covering. Don't our kids deserve better?

    Maybe it's better if you'e always taught as a science "generalist" but if all of your experience is as a specialist and suddenly you get plonked into the generalist role, it really isn't the best thing for the students. My classes wonder why the other groups get the 'real' biology teacher and they get stuck with a physics teacher.
  14. Evertonian

    Evertonian New commenter

    I've no problem with it but it's tricky first time through and I'm always learning. How many graduates covered everything even in their own subject? Plus I firmly believe rotations through specialists have big issues unless you're staffed so you can teach one subject all year. Personally I'd sooner have less pupils to teach and more science! That said I don't think we get anywhere near the respect for it on a knowledge or leading the subject sense...such a huge job to alter anything SoW wise!
    phlogiston likes this.
  15. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Been teaching over 22 years.
    Always been this way.
    I specialise in Biology but have had to teach all 3 up to GCSE.
    Moony likes this.
  16. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    It's only up to GCSE level? So surely teachers should be competent enough to teach to this level? I don't obviously expect an A Level Physics teacher to rock up and teach A Level Biology for a year without having degree-level standards of that teaching.

    But for GCSE, surely nothing is that difficult that someone with a degree in Biology can't do? I expect all my teachers in my department to be able to teach up to A* (or 9 even) level at GCSE in all three core sciences. The expectation is that someone with a degree/background in science pursued more than one science at a level.

    I teach in a secondary school with a sixth form and all my science teachers in my department teach their specialist subject at A Level and also for the top set (as more able pupils can ask more challenging questions for someone who is specalised in that area) but at GCSE they all must be able to teach each science. At A Level it is equally my expectation, as the head of the department, to teach all three sciences up to A Level.
    phlogiston likes this.
  17. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Rock on!
    Moony likes this.
  18. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    It might be niche but it's gneiss, I schist you not!
  19. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Shale we chalk it up to experience and start with a clean slate!

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