Home' Teacher : May 2010 Contents 22 TEACHER MAY 2010
In 'Seeing the link: Making the link,'
Dian ne Lodge identifies what many teach-
ers face as a constant problem: the ability
of their students, or their lack of ability, to
link what they learn in the classroom with
the world around them.
Many students view science as some-
thing that only operates within the confines
of the science laboratory at school -- and
then there's the real world outside. They
may think like this for many reasons, but
certainly one of them is the lack of strong
links between what students learn in the
classroom and their everyday experiences
of science. Put simply, how do we teachers
make science relevant to ou r students' lives?
Lodge also considers what factors lead
scientists to investigate and discover new
understandings of science, and this, more
often than not, helps her create links to what
is happening in the real world and makes
science relevant as a way to explain it.
Lodge uses her timeline activity to help
give the science she is presenting a con-
text and to situate it historically, politi-
cally and geographically. She does this in
an effort to pique and hold her students'
interest, to provide them with more back-
ground knowledge to encourage deeper
u nderstanding, and to assist them to bet-
ter understand the way science has evolved
and how ideas have built on one another.
Lodge is concerned with students under-
standing, 'the driving forces behind scien-
tific development,' so that they can situate
scientific developments and understand the
need for science in our world. She doesn't
want them to learn a set a facts in isola-
tion and so looks for ways to support them
to make strong links between particular
scientific discoveries and the world at the
time the discoveries were made. In doing
this, she highlights the needs that caused
the discoveries in order to show students
that there's still a need for science today.
Scientists are people who push boundaries
and try challenging things, usually with a
clear reason for doing so.
Having students make links between
their world and the science classroom is a
very different idea to having the teacher do
it for them, as Lodge identifies. Students'
interests in the real world aren't necessar-
ily the same as teachers' interests; links
that a teacher sees between subject areas,
for example, science and history, might not
always be obvious or useful to students.
We teachers need to find ways to tap into
our students' interests and, without mak-
ing assumptions about the links that they'll
make, allow them the freedom to compre-
hend the content through their own experi-
ences of the world. We need to offer our
students opportunities to see links between
their subjects, and those subjects and the
world, and articulate them in ways that
allowfor ideas tobe teasedout across learn-
ing areas and for skills to be shared.
It's also often the case that students have
access to a wealth of knowledge, but don't
know what to do with it. Lodge attempts to
combat this with the timeline activity that
requires students to make a decision about
which world events are relevant to the discov-
ery of atomic theory. She gives her students
a reason to sift through the information so
that they only list what is actually relevant
and forces them to create clear links between
what was happening in the world and the
discovery of atomic theory, and maybe links
between what they've studied in history and
how it has affected science.
In particular with science, students
should be aware of the way scientific discov-
ery can be driven be 'social, economic and
political forces.' Does science shape the way
we view the world or does the world shape
the way we engage with science? 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.
Rebecca Cooper is a researcher in
the Faculty of Education at Mon ash
University. She has published on the
links between the goals of teacher edu -
c ation and the challe nges of teaching
pre -ser vic e teachers.
Linking for learning
WHEN STUDENTS LINK THE SCIENCE THEY LEARN IN THE CLASSROOM
WITH THE WORLD AROUND THEM, THEY LEARN A LOT, AS STEPHEN
KEAST AND REBECCA COOPER EXPLAIN.
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