Sunday, January 08, 2017

Why is Physics so badly taught?

This is an excellent question and one that teachers have been wrestling with for some time. In fact I will be giving a presentation along these lines to a group of teachers in February of this year. Here is a list of key factors that have been identified
  1. There is all too often not enough time spent making sure that the students understand the key concepts (Big Ideas) before moving on to the problem solving;
  2. Overuse of poor analogies in explaining concepts that lead to further problems down the road when application situation become more complex;
  3. Many physics teachers are transplanted math teachers who teach the subject as a type of Applied Math - Physics of course is much more than that;
  4. Lack of Laboratory work and Demonstrations that allow students to consolidate big ideas on a visual/hands-on level;
  5. North American courses are often too focused on breadth and not on depth with respect to curriculum content - in a rush to cover many teacher’s often sacrifice the deeper analysis to check off all the topic boxes;
  6. Instruction methodology often lacks diversity - Various Combinations of teacher and student orientated approaches should be intermixed as is necessary to target the broader student mosaic (and variety of learning styles);
  7. Too much focus on formula memorization - Formulas are important but students need to understand where they come from, how they apply and what are the limitations of each formula based on the Assumptions inherent in their derivation
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