Science 7-11: Developing Primary Teaching Skills

Science 7-11: Developing Primary Teaching Skills

Science 7-11: Developing Primary Teaching Skills

Science 7-11: Developing Primary Teaching Skills


As one of the core areas of the curriculum, science provides particular challenges, especially to teachers working at the top end of the elementary school range. Science 7-11invites science teachers working with preteens to examine their practice in the light of current research findings. Clive Carre and Carrie Ovens, both experienced primary teachers themselves, ask what teachers really need to know both about their subject and about their students in order to teach


There are two myths in teaching that are commonly heard. Some say that teachers need sound academic subject knowledge and can learn about children in the process of teaching them. Others say that the crux of teaching is to understand children, the subject knowledge will come through teaching it. Current thinking is that each of the two views is partially right; as Mary Kennedy succinctly argues:

Academic subjects and diverse learners are the yin and yang of teaching - opposing and complementary forces . . . An erudite portrayal of an important concept has no value if students can’t understand it, but neither does an engaging portrayal that is inaccurate.

(Kennedy, 1991)

At no other time has the science curriculum been subjected to such critical scrutiny. The establishment of the National Curriculum with science as a core element was one result of this. The demands made upon primary teachers have consequently altered. In line with the strenuous efforts which have been made to support and promote primary science, particularly to alter its image of being synonymous with nature study, this book offers guidance on teaching science to children from 7 to 11 years old. It cannot be a comprehensive guide, neither can it deal with all subject topics; but it selectively examines instances of effective teaching. Our aim is to help you enhance your practice, by capitalising on what you already know about teaching in general and about children. We hope that the practical suggestions and examples of classroom work will enable you to compare what you do with our perceptions of teaching science at this age level.

Throughout, we have urged a teaching strategy which includes finding out children’s intuitive understandings as a start to ‘doing science’. We suggest planning activities which challenge their thinking, introduce them to correct vocabulary, and encourage them towards consensus views of adult science. We believe that at times it is appropriate to use ‘jam-jar’ technology; at other times it is better to use more sophisticated apparatus, chosen specifically to help children understand a concept.

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