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Teaching secondary science
Teaching secondary science

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1.1 Views of science

As a science teacher, you are probably enthusiastic about science – but what are the views of others?

Activity 1 Views of science

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Ask people of different ages (including those of school age) what they think about science. You could do this through your social media networks. Ask them about their views of science now, as well as when they were learning it at school. What has led to their views?

What are the most common attitudes and feelings people have about science? What has led to these views and attitudes?

Not all views about science are positive. How science is portrayed in schools, the media and elsewhere contributes to how people view it. Images of science convey important ‘hidden’ messages about who does science and what science involves. In the past, textbooks in particular have been criticised for the messages they convey to young people.

Activity 2 Images of science

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Look at the pictures and photographs presented in science textbooks, news items and websites aimed at young people. What images of science and scientists are portrayed?

Past research has revealed the stereotype view of the scientist as a white male Einstein lookalike (Reiss, 2002). Different images of scientists are present in the media today, but has this changed the images that children and young people have of science and scientists?

Activity 3 Images of science

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Ask two or three children or teenagers who you know to draw a picture of a scientist or describe a scientist. Are the old stereotypes still evident in their drawing(s) and descriptions, or is the image changing? If so, in what ways are they changing?

You may have found that some people view science as ‘difficult’ or ‘boring’, and only for the ‘clever’ students. Science may not appeal to creative and artistic people who find it hard to relate to the impersonal image associated with science. They may have been put off by lacklustre teaching that failed to help them see the relevance of science to their lives and interests. Many people do not feel that they were successful in science at school; some are even hostile towards science or show pride in their ignorance of science. Images and views of science have implications for science teachers wanting to enthuse students. The challenge for science teachers is how to make science appealing and relevant to pupils with different interests and views.