What are the challenges faced by teachers in teaching science in schools?
Like teachers for all subjects, science teachers are challenged by the harnessing of student focus. Science is meticulous, requiring a sense of focus and discipline. Adhering to inquiry, embracing the scientific method, understanding how a hypothesis works, and how to approach it when the answer is not directly evident, the noting of data and the fine tuning of representing data are all very challenging skills to impart into students. In an educational setting where so many students easily capitulate and "want the answer," science teachers have to find ways in which they are able to stress to students that science is both process and product, recognizing both going hand in hand with one another. There is little in way of "worksheet" teaching in science and there is little, or should be little in way of, "Here's the answer." Teaching kids to understand the nature of science and the revelatory power of discovery in the discipline becomes the elements of science that are the most challenging to teach. As high stakes standardized testing becomes a reality in which "the answer" becomes "the only thing," I think that science teachers face an additional challenge in teaching the value and intrinsic love of process in an increasingly product driven setting. Finally, I think that being able to broaden science to all students, so that they can move away from a stereotypical notion that science is "just for nerds" is a challenge that science teachers face. "Science teaching and learning for all" is not a battle cry for science teachers, but represents one of the most important challenges that can be addressed in terms of seeing its application for all students of different narratives and backgrounds. In my mind, I see these as the challenges that are experienced by all teachers, but in particular those of the sciences.
A modern problem for science teachers, as with all teachers, is the proliferation of electronic devices in the classroom. Students have grown up with smart phones in their hands, and "Google.com" at the forefront of their brains when it comes to answering questions and investigating topics in their academic courses. Ask a student a question and the first thing many of them will do is simply type the question into their web browser. Worryingly, they often accept the first answer they see, without conducting any kind of discriminating research—a practice which is contradictory to the nature of the scientific method. This approach to science does nothing to kindle a fascination with the processes that shape our lives and our world.
Another problem science teachers face is student apathy. Science courses are required for everybody, but many students do not pursue science majors in college or scientific careers. Therefore, many students fail to see the value of science courses. The age-old student complaint of, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?” is a frequent comment in science and math classes. The teacher who can create an interesting class in spite of this apathy is rare indeed.
We see the impact of this problem in modern life. Climate change is a good example. Although the evidence supporting the effect and causes of climate change is overwhelming and widely accepted by scientists worldwide, it is a political issue because too many people do not have a solid foundation in science. The lesser-educated can possibly be the most easily duped.