Time and time again, I often reflect on my teaching practices and what I am bringing into the classroom. Having taught in many different schools in both locally and internationally, and public and private, I can safety say that I have seen many aspects of science education in a variety of education settings. But why did I come become a science teacher?
As I reflect on the journey in becoming a science teacher, it was never been a part the planning process, that I never had an epiphany of “hey I want to teach science!”. Nope, not at all. I was always interested in science, but never really excelled in it that I got 90s or high 90s compared to my art marks. Now as a somewhat experienced science teacher, it makes me think back on my own experience during high school of what science was in the grand scheme of science education. Was science education merely the memorization and regurgitation of facts? Obviously not, but how do we incorporate science into a diverse classroom to promote science education? Yes, a science classroom (bio,chem, and physics) should include hands-on practical experience, and yes it should involve critical thinking, and yes, it should be relevant to the real world, but do we? or how do we?
One of the biggest struggles and challenges of being a science teacher is to have the students to actually do science. What exactly is doing science? An explosive demo? An experiment? Students in a music class play instruments and read music, and students in physical education classes move and and play sports but science? Even when we perform labs, the students are merely just following instructions in a step by step fashion that they aren’t challenged to think critically on what exactly they are testing. How many times do we ask our students to plan, design, and execute an experiment? I have tried, but the struggles with that often lead into frustration, or time constraint because a good experimental design, and ultimately trying and doing science requires a significant amount of time. We often run a lab once, observe, and conclude and that’s it. Where’s the critical thinking, tweaking, or re-designing the experiment?
Until we have an open curriculum that is perceived as or if not more important than the standard Provincial wide curriculum, science will always be recognized as just following lab procedures, memorization of facts and some exciting demonstrations.