Let physicists teach physics

21st April 2006 at 01:00
Once again the Government talks about helping science teaching, but can we believe the Education Secretary when all past initiatives have failed?

Like many approaching the end of their careers, I believed the glossy television advert and started a PGCE course, intending to teach physics, after 30 years as a professional engineer. The subject came naturally to me, and I felt altruistic about passing knowledge on to the next generation. How naive I was!

The requirements of the national curriculum drove me, in my teaching practice, into teaching biology (badly), chemistry (barely passably) with little practice at teaching the subject that I wanted to teach.

Why are we becoming, in science terms, a nation of generalists, when we could so easily sharpen up pupils' abilities by allowing physicists to teach physics, biologists to teach biology and so on.

How many have read the 2005 report, from the University of Buckingham, about the woeful state of physics teaching in the UK? I recommend it to all readers of The TES. Many other mature students on my course also resigned before finishing it, with the same complaints.

The "spin" from glossy adverts is a misrepresentation by the Government.

My message to the Department for Education and Skills is that it should get its act together and sort out a system that will produce science students who actually understand their subject, taught by teachers who have in-depth knowledge of it.

Ken McDougall 3 Hammond Green Wellesbourne, Warwickshire

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