“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve”Roger Lewin – British prize-winning science writer
These words of Roger Lewin aptly sum up the way science is being majorly taught across schools and colleges in our country. No doubt, a certain amount of science does involve the knowledge of principles and relevant facts. However, teaching science should not end up being a mere feeding of these to the student. Science is a subject that has to be explored and learnt first hand.
Let students learn Science firsthand
Science is not a subject to be taught in the confines of a classroom or by flipping through the pages of a science textbook. Science is taught the right way only if every student develops the habit of questioning the existing ideas and ways of doing things. Every science period must be one filled with the exploration of everyday things that the kids observe around them, try to reason out why they work the way they do. It is only then that the findings, theories, discoveries, formulae and inventions that have happened over the course of mankind’s history must get introduced to kids.
Let them re-tread the path of scientists
Newton’s laws of motion need not be just 3 bullet points on the blackboard. Rather, they can be a series of simple experiments that the teacher can conduct, ask students to repeat and summarize their findings. Finally, the teacher can boil down their findings into what Newton has famously surmised as the three laws. That is the way real science is learnt. Students will appreciate the laws for the simplistic way in which they were formulated by Newton after he observed and measured the same things that the students had tried to do themselves. That is when students will learn that even Newton’s laws are not absolutely perfect. That is when students will learn that though imperfect, Newton’s laws are acceptable for most real-life situations.
Science taught the right way will bring two important changes among students
1. Pique interest in science
If science is not accompanied by the “Do it yourself and Learn” philosophy, we will end up creating generations of kids who feel so awed by the genius of former scientists, inventors and discoverers that they are left with a feeling that everything there was to be invented or discovered has already been done so and there is not much work left to be done. This drains out their interest in science. Teachers should avoid this pitfall.
2. Give impetus to advanced research
Science taught the right way also impresses upon students the need for meticulous observation, recording and reexamination – the cornerstones of research. It will kindle interest in the pursuit of theoretical science and advanced research – a key requirement to further the nation’s progress in the decades to come.
Science must continuously kindle their curiosity and all their observations must be brought into the ambit of careful theorizing, recording, analysis and inferences. Forming a habit of this nature will draw out the innate scientist hidden among all kids.
The final word
Changing the way Science is taught will not only impact the interest levels among students towards the subject8i but will reap scientific and economic benefits for the country as a whole. India will regain her eminence as the science capital of the world. The country will house the best science study centres, cutting edge science research labs and most importantly turn into a magnet for the best scientific minds across the world to congregate and further humanity’s scientific knowledge.
This essay won the 2nd place at the National Level Essay competition held online as part of the India International Science Festival, an annual event conducted by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India https://iisfvirtual.in and https://www.scienceindiafest.org/