Language Teaching Essay

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Chemical Education International, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2005 Paper based on the lecture presented at the 18th ICCE, Istanbul, Turkey, 3-8 August 2004 MAKING CHEMISTRY TEACHING RELEVANT Jack Holbrook Secretary ICASE, Visiting Professor, Univ of Tartu, Estonia Consultant, Secondary Education Project, Bangladesh E-mail Introduction Research has shown that chemistry teaching • is unpopular and irrelevant in the eyes of students (Kracjik et al., 2001; Osborne and Collins, 2001: Pak, 1997; Sjoberg, 2001; WCS, 1999; ICASE, 2003). • does not promote higher order cognitive skills (Anderson et al, 1992; Zoller, 1993). • leads to gaps between students wishes and teachers teaching (Hofstein et al. 2000; Yager and Weld, 2000; Holbrook and Rannikmae, 2002) • is not changing, because teachers are afraid of change and need guidance (Aikenhead, 1997; Bell, 1998; Rannikmae, 2001a). A factor common to all of the above seems to be the lack of relevance of chemistry teaching. Although school chemistry programs set out to develop conceptual understanding in students and an appreciation of the way scientists do things, the relevance of the teaching in providing a useful education is suspect (Pak, 1997; Yager, 1996; Champagne et al, 1985; Lederman, 1992; Novick and Nussbaum, 1981; Osborne and Freyberg, 1986; Ryan and Aikenhead, 1992). The stress on conceptual understanding and the appreciation of the nature of science tends not to be relevant for functionality in our lives i.e. relevant to the home, the environment, future employment and most definitely for future changes and developments within the society. Rather, the understanding tends to be geared to internal concepts within the subject itself. Concepts such as atomic structure, or chemical bonding are almost universally section headings in chemistry courses, yet in daily life, for

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