Science

5th January 2007 at 00:00
Creating a Classroom Community of Young Scientists (2nd edition). By Jeffrey W. Bloom Routledge pound;20.99. www.tandf.co.uk

John Dabell finds plenty of empirical evidence in favour of a book designed to galvanise young minds

This book from the United States is a real gem - well, more of a rock really. It attacks the view of science as boring, confusing and difficult by getting us to rethink how we teach it and how children learn it. It does this by making sure we understand that science isn't simply a set of concepts that teachers pass on, but a dynamic, organic and awe-inspiring subject that is experienced, negotiated and raises many questions.

Creating a Classroom Community of Young Scientists values classroom talk.

It reminds you how much ownership and control children should have over their own learning, and makes you sit up and think about what kind of a teacher you are. There are some brilliant chapters to soak up, including teaching and learning through inquiry, assessing children's thinking, learning and talk, and reflective practice.

Page after page of insightful commentary, rich questioning and practical examples fill the book, along with additional reading, advanced reading and web links. The book is written for the North American market, so some parts reflect US and Canadian education standards. A revised version would need to address the UK curriculum and schemes of work, although the actual science material is without boundaries - global in its catchment area.

Inevitably there are holes, some the size of pinpricks and not worth getting worked up about, but others more like the Clavius moon crater. For example, the book boasts that it draws on the latest research in teaching and learning, yet there is no mention of science concept cartoons - the biggest thing to hit UK science teaching in ages.

Some gaps reflect introversion and ignorance. But any book that puts the learner centre stage deserves our attention, and this one is worthy of a wide audience - from trainees, teachers, advisers, consultants, researchers and policy-makers across the science curriculum.

It is a book that could change your practice, will undoubtedly improve your subject knowledge and understanding, and will impact positively on learners of all ages.

This is a passionate book, written by someone who cares, which sees critical reflection as a daily part of teaching and learning. Highly recommended

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