Improve junior science: put the Play back into Primary school

Earlier this year, Professor Sir Paul Callaghan wrote:

“Today, television and the Internet have consumed vast quantities of children’s leisure time. And we now live in the throwaway age. Nothing is tinkered with or repaired, only discarded and replaced. Toys have become innocuous and we have even deprived children of fireworks.

We need to use e-learning because kids relate to that and we know that it works. But we also need to put back what has been removed from their play as children. They need conversation, they need practical experience of nature and the world and they need effective teaching from inspired individuals with all the subtlety and nuance that only real human beings can provide. Indeed, my idea of a science curriculum for primary school would be a form of directed play, in which children gather direct personal experience of the natural world.

Instead of primary school children being confusingly taught to learn science concepts by teachers who don’t understand them, I would have them gathering plants and insects and drawing pictures. I would have them playing with water and model boats, building radio receivers, making telephones, shanghais and catapults, making gunpowder and building their own skyrockets. I would have them walking in the hills and climbing trees and then describing all they see. I would have them planting flowers and tending animals. In short, I would put back into children’s lives the pleasure of the natural world, which many of their parents have denied them, either through fear for their safety, or through too tidy a suburban or city living environment. Children need to cultivate their imaginations, their ability to reason and their ability to sense scale and proportion. And they need to experience the pleasure of playing with numbers.” (p.12)

Ref: Paul Callaghan (2012) Science is vital for good citizenship New Zealand Science Teacher 129, pp.11-12


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in early years education, Literate Contexts, Science education, Teaching excellence, The effect of multimedia on children/childhood and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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