Resources for Science Teaching

Resources for Science Teaching

Report of a Survey in the Commonwealth Caribbean You do not have access to this content

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Author(s):
Judith Reay
01 Jan 1982
Pages:
76
ISBN:
9781848593336 (PDF)
http://dx.doi.org/10.14217/9781848593336-en
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  • Preface

    In response to a recommendation of the Seventh Commonwealth Education Conference which urged the Commonwealth Secretariat to publish a resource book on science materials produced in various countries, the Education Division commissioned this study as the first of a series of publications describing the work so far undertaken in this field in various parts of the Commonwealth. It highlights trends in science education - particularly physics and integrated science - in the Commonwealth Caribbean which emphasise the use of the environment as a resource and attempts to relate science education closely to national development.

  • Introduction

    This report discusses resources for school science education in those Commonwealth countries which encircle the Caribbean Sea. There is also mention of the Bahamas, a Commonwealth country which has educational links with the University of the West Indies. With the exception of Belize and Guyana on the American continent, all the countries are island groups.

  • Background to Education in the Commonwealth Caribbean

    The Commonwealth Caribbean countries have suffered from the increasing instability of the sugar cane and tourist economies on which they used to rely, so that government provision of science teaching facilities has failed to match not only the demands of the modern curricula but also the standards that science teachers have come to expect.

  • Prototypes, Models, Experimental Designs and Mass Production of Equipment

    Participants at the 1976 Bahamas Workshop judged it premature to discuss the establishment of a Caribbean-wide mass production unit. Even national mass production does not yet exist, although the idea has received some consideration. While local mass production is unlikely to result in mass financial savings, there would be other benefits, some of which will be mentioned below.

  • Improvisations

    Teachers who improvise do so when commercial apparatus is not available or not suitable. Even in laboratories with the best equipment, good teachers will improvise; this aspect will be discussed more fully in a later section. Most schools, however, are not adequately equipped, so that their teachers are faced with the choice of improvising or denying their pupils valuable experience.

  • Improvements on Commercial Equipment

    The preceding section examined the extent to which Caribbean educators had improvised equipment when commercially produced models were in short supply. Among the roles of the science teacher, Silber (1979) has included that of experimenter/tinkerer, and some teachers improve on their commercial stocks for educational reasons. It may be an improvement to allow the commercial pinhole camera kit to gather dust on the shelves while the children are given toilet paper cardboard cores, carbon paper, greaseproof paper, rubber bands and pins.

  • Science Rooms

    It is surprising how many school architects are unaware of the need for flexibility in a laboratory. The great majority of Caribbean school laboratories are furnished with massive fixed benches which make small group work impossible and limit the range of strategies available to the teacher. The older chemistry laboratories are particularly awkward, tending to confront the child with a rack of bottles which cannot be seen through so that their view of the environment is limited to a couple of metres on either side.

  • Audiovisual Resources

    In the Caribbean, the facilities for the production of audiovisual software are more than adequate for the demands. Audiovisual or multimedia production centres exist at UWI Mona, UWI St Augustine and the Guyana Ministry of Education. The Guyana multilateral schools each have small audiovisual centres.

  • Printed Resources for the Classroom

    This section is more of a sample than a list of the great volume of printed material that is being produced for science teaching in the region. We must consider, I think, whether teacher educators and curriculum developers are finding the most effective means of reaching teachers who are too numerous for them to meet in person as often as they would like. The common solution is to send the teachers materials which, it is hoped, they will read and use.

  • Centres and Information Sources

    An important resource is the science education centre or teachers' centre, and it seems appropriate to report briefly on those that exist in the Caribbean.

  • Servicing of Equipment

    One of the greatest needs in the Caribbean, and the one that has received the least positive attention, is a maintenance and repair service. A problem in any country, apparatus breakdown is aggravated where there is high teacher mobility, as there is in most Caribbean countries. A teacher faced with unfamiliar equipment may fail to take the necessary precautions which helped the equipment to survive in the hands of a predecessor.

  • Science Teachers' Association

    Science teachers' associations as a resource were mentioned early in this paper. It is worthwhile at this point to draw attention to some specific resources which have been found useful by members of these associations.

  • Retrospect and Prospect

    Innovation in science education in the Caribbean is largely a phenomenon of the 1970s. Before that, the only Ministry of Education with a science education officer was Jamaica's, and the only UWI campus with any science teacher-educators was also Jamaica's until St Augustine in 1968 began the development of WISCIP. Accordingly, the only attempts to co-ordinate and improve the work of science teachers outside Jamaica came from the associations of science teachers themselves, BASE in Barbados and STAG in Guyana.

  • Conclusion

    In the 1970s considerable advances in science education, nationally and regionally, were made. Given that the populations of the countries of the region of approximately five million people vary from 11,000 upwards to only two million, and given a regional university, it was appropriate and not too difficult to put together a regional force of science-educators. This force, commonly respected, is now the most valuable resource of the region and is ready for more ambitious projects.

  • Notes and Sources of Information and Bibliography
  • Appendices and Glossary of Abbreviations
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