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Friday Five: Misconceptions about science teachers

There's more to science teachers than lab coats, Bunsen burners and being Stephen Hawking's number-one fan...

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There's more to science teachers than lab coats, Bunsen burners and being Stephen Hawking's number-one fan...

We all know the science teacher stereotype: slightly stained lab coat, thick-rimmed spectacles and disheveled hair. But look a little bit closer and you’ll find there’s so much more to us than round-bottomed flasks and pickled things in jars. Here are five misconceptions that really ought to be addressed:  

  1. We are all nerds Contrary to popular belief and the teachings of US sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, the study of science alone is not enough to make us geeks. It is our intricate knowledge of Doctor Who plotlines and our ability to speak Klingon that really takes us to into the realm of nerdity.  
  2. We all worship Albert Einstein Not true. And neither are we personally acquainted with Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall or Bill Nye the Science Guy. (But how great would it be to be on their Christmas card list?!)  
  3. We all desire a Nobel Prize People feel we have let the side down if we do not have our own Large Hadron Collider in our sheds or if our rocket launchers are fuelled by the power of imagination, rather than hydrogen. But while we might not be at the forefront of scientific discovery in person, we can sure teach the hell out of it.  
  4. We all play with chemicals whenever we can  Breaking Bad may have given all science teachers a kind of kudos that we haven’t had since the 1960s but, believe it or not, we don’t all possess the knowledge to cook crystal meth or knock up some low-grade explosives for Bonfire Night. These days, demonstrations are largely limited to marble rollercoasters and custard speakers.  
  5. We think all other subjects are inferior The study of science couldn’t have progressed as far as it has without a rather large helping hand from subjects such as maths, ICT and Latin, to name just a few. And without art and world languages, how would we ever have become acquainted with the comic book?

Alison Mitchell was talking to Nicola Davison. She has been a secondary science teacher and mentor in Bournemouth schools for almost 40 years. Now on the road to retirement, she has always tried to find the funny side of this strange and wonderful profession

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