Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Generally, in the government Education sector of Pakistan, science teachers and teacher educators mostly emphasize providing scientific information to their students rather than making them aware of the way of learning about scientific theories. That is why students do not believe that they can construct their theories by interacting with hands-on mind-on activities and cross-fertilization of their ideas. The evidence is that I have been experiencing this kind of teaching and learning as a student, science teacher, and teacher educator.

Science demands children to develop an awareness of their surroundings and environment so that they can connect the practical activities done in class to their real-life situations. For example, using their senses to explore and investigate enable children to discover the phenomena that develop an understanding of the scientific concepts. Science teachers should create a conducive learning environment, where students are able to interact with concrete material and discuss it with each other. When I reflect back on my past experiences, I feel that I treated students as empty vessels. I fed facts to students from science textbooks and expected them to have these facts reproduce in the form of mid-term and annual examinations. I prepared parrots. I never tried that they develop the ability of analytical thinking, questioning and observation skills because I too lacked awareness about the nature of science (NOS) and inquiry approach in teaching science.

Similarly, in government middle schools of Pakistan, science textbook is considered a source of all knowledge. Science is considered as facts of knowledge and students have to memorize them for the examination. For example, if we asked students to draw the shape of any leaf of a tree on paper, they drew that same shape that was in there in the textbook. They did not think of drawing the diagram of a leaf from their own environment. This shows that teachers have inscribed the images of textbooks on their minds. There is no link between classroom teaching and the daily lives of students. Students believe that science prevails in the classroom and textbooks only.

In the last ten years of teaching science, I have observed that most of the trained science teachers (including me) felt uncomfortable teaching science using a hands-on inquiry approach. The students carry out some experiments at the end of a year in grades 9 & 10, and ten following fixed rules. They follow the same steps and those are written in the manual and try to obtain the same results. This is called practical work. Teachers did not engage students in meaningful activities neither did they provided them with the opportunities to use their real-life experiences to develop interest and curiosity nor were the students given a thorough understanding of underlying reasons for the facts. Harwell (2000) has cited Stiner (1995) as: “Students are frequently “turned off” to science because they are often required to perform learning activities they perceive as ‘not connected’ to an ‘evidential experimental base’ that makes sense to them” (p. 236).

Teacher education programs in Pakistan do not include NOS as a part of their syllabus. Nevertheless, the science curriculum for pupils from classes one to eight does address NOS. As evidence, I have listed general objectives of teaching science of class eight, which are taken from the science curriculum of the Government of Pakistan 2006.

The general objectives are summarized as:

  1. Inquiry and investigating: Knowledge is acquired through a variety of activities and experiences. The teaching of science at the elementary level should help to; develop an ability to recognize, define, and analyze the problem, take accurate measurements, observe carefully and record observations, design and carry out investigations to verify information, and draw conclusions and make inferences.
  2. Understanding and applying scientific knowledge: Understanding scientific knowledge, principles, and processes help children to apply this knowledge to solve their everyday problems.
  3. Communication of science knowledge: Teaching/learning of science should focus on developing communication skills in children so that they can report scientific information in simple but clear and accurate verbal or written form. Explain events of their daily life.
  4. Developing scientific attitude: Activities and learning experiences in science should also lead to the development of scientific attitudes in children.
  5. The teaching of science in class eight should develop an attitude of curiosity, interest, and enjoyment in science, the habit of critical thinking and draw inference from observations, the behavior of scientifically literate citizen, an appreciation that Allah is the creator and sustainer of this universe, tolerance for others’ scientific opinions, and a commitment to learning and working independently as well as working effectively with other

To implement the innovative curriculum regarding NOS, teacher educators and science teachers need to get awareness about NOS and its relationship to the effective use of hands-on activities. In this regard, crucial things are that it is the nature of the design of the hands-on activity (not the hands-on activity itself), which develops students’ understanding of NOS. So we would have to organize hands-on activities in such a way that students could make their conjectures, devise their own tests, and then take part in mini-conferences where ideas are critically evaluated. Activity for the sake of activity does not make a difference in developing the concept of NOS. It should help students think that science is creative, testable, and tentative.

REFERENCE

Harwell, S.H. (2000). In their own voices: middle-level girls’ perceptions of

Teaching and learning science. Journal of science teacher education,

11, (221-242).

By Ali Ahmed Jan

Ali Ahmed Jan is a versatile educationist, team player, trainer having a professional background in advisor education, consultant education, program manager, manager education (emergency education), teacher educator, Master trainer, assistant professor, and science teacher.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *