What will the spider have for tea?

5th April 1996 at 01:00
Primary teachers face a conflict between the demands of the 5-14 science curriculum and the way younger children learn through a strategy of personalising subjects, known as storying, researchers at Strathclyde University have found.

The problem has arisen because pupils between the ages of three and seven gain an understanding of subjects in a way that is not considered scientific.

For example, if they are studying a spider for "minibeasts in science", they will ask where it "sleeps", where it "lives" and what it will have for "tea".

They use this method to remember the spider, its habits and how the creature differs from other insects. But those who draw up the primary science curriculum, usually specialists drawn from secondary schools, do not con-sider such a strategy to be "proper science".

Sue Kleinberg and Sue Ellis, based at the Jordanhill campus, are now working on a new model of "emergent science" which takes into account the "unscientific" methods of learning used by the young.

"Emergent science for this age-group would give teachers the model they need to make a bridge between infant understanding and more abstract understanding, " Mrs Ellis said.

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