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The science of good teaching

Subject knowledge in science, long considered the key to quality teaching, may after all be less important than a firm understanding of the theories of learning and an appreciation of how science promotes children's high-quality thinking skills.

Six teachers identified as excellent science teachers by heads, advisory teachers or OFSTED, were asked about how they became interested in science teaching. While all were at different stages of their careers, the majority cited in-service courses presented by inspiring advisory teachers as a turning point in their approach to teaching, empowering them to develop theories about teaching science

While observations of their lessons showed that they all had a firm grasp of the subject, none of them was concerned about their degree of subject knowledge, nor did they believe that it was watertight.

Far more important to them was pedagogical knowledge, or the ability to engage in high level reasoning, thinking and synthesis. When that kind of knowledge is achieved, largely through the discussion of ideas, then the subject knowledge is not far behind.

How did you get to be a good primary science teacher? by Dr Anne Qualter, University of Liverpool, Department of Education, 126 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L69 3BX.

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