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Simplified or erroneous? It’s a fine line

journal contribution
posted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by Kieran LimKieran Lim
Novice learners need to have simplified explanations because they are unable to understand fuller, more-involved explanations. However, there is a dangerously thin line between simplified explanations and over-simplified erroneous explanations, which lead to later misunderstandings and misconceptions. It is harder to unlearn misunderstandings and misconceptions, than to learn something new ab initio.

It is virtually impossible for any teacher to know everything that students will need for future study and careers, as each subject will lead to a myriad of pathways. For example, in my undergraduate 1st year class, students will go into numerous majors across more than 16 degree programs ranging from arts to zoology and from engineering to food-and-nutrition. 

The present subject is part of the foundation for many possible pathways, but it is extremely difficult for a single teacher to know about all of them, or to know about specialist topics developed in later years. Thus, to prevent over-simplifications and misconceptions, there is need for partnerships between the teacher in the present subject and employers, researchers, industrial scientists and teachers from later in the educational and career pathway. These vertical partnerships or advisory groups can help teachers to access information from later in the pathway, so that these teachers have a greater appreciation of the subtleties and the whys of what they teach.

Not everything is in the textbook. Indeed, this is implicit in the new National Curriculum, in which students have to learn about the culture of science as part of Science as a Human Endeavour (SHE). We need more partnership and cooperation between the teachers, who are pedagogy specialists, and researchers and industry scientists, who are the content knowledge specialists.

History

Journal

Chemistry in Australia

Volume

2013

Issue

July

Pagination

35 - 35

Publisher

Royal Australian Chemical Institute

Location

Melbourne, Vic.

ISSN

0314-4240

Language

eng

Publication classification

C4 Letter or note

Copyright notice

2013, Royal Australian Chemical Institute

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