Home' Teacher : December 2009 Contents LOOKING INTO PRACTICE 19
implications of different ideas and started to
rethink their understanding of the science.
This unexpected learning outcome pre-
sented itself as an opening for new teaching.
Stead stepped boldly for ward. Rather than
teach from the alternative conceptions, he
was able to prompt new ways to consider the
scientific ideas by asking questions. Instead
of giving answers as he normally would, he
actually asked new questions. This contin-
ued the discussion and learning.
Using his questions to direct the dis-
cussion, he was able to guide his students'
learning. Issues raised by questions like
'Is honey a liquid?' guided the students
to recognise weaknesses in their previous
conceptions of liquids and develop more
scientifically accepted ones. In this way,
his students were able to talk their way to
understanding as a group and gained direc-
tion for and ownership of the knowledge
Stead found that stepping back and let-
ting the students guide the learning through
discussion encouraged deeper understand-
ing than telling them.
Did this suit all students? No, but does
anything we do in the class suit them all?
Has Stead found the holy grail of teaching?
Will he only teach in this way from now on?
No. Teaching is complex, as is learning.
Students have different learning needs and
there's no one, perfect way to teach all stu-
dents. Stead added one more string to his
bow, one more tool, one more strategy to his
teaching repertoire, one more way to engage
his students in thinking deeply about scien-
tific concepts. T
Stephen Keast is a Science education
lecturer in the Faculty of Educ ation at
Mon a sh Unive rsity. His research and
teaching interests are based on under-
standing and developing teacher profes-
sion al wisdom, and its disse min ation to
teachers through effective professional
development. He was a secondary school
teacher for 15 years.
Rebecc a Coope r is a researcher in the Fac-
ulty of Education at Monash University.
She has published on the links betwee n the
goals of teacher education and the chal-
lenges of teaching preservice teachers.
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