June 21, 2018

What is your teaching philosophy? – Thomas

What is your teaching philosophy? How has this originated and can you evaluate how your educational touchstones will impact on the teacher you aspire to be?

In teaching physics, I believe the skills that can be gained through the study of physics (mathematical, problem solving, thinking) should be emphasised whilst also entertaining students' curiosity and guiding it in the right direction.

Physics has the ambition of explaining nature through simple models. Whilst this task is not yet complete, the understanding of current models can, and should, be made accessible to all students such that they can begin to develop a scientific way of thinking as well as an appreciation for the task that science is striving to achieve.

At college, studying physics particularly, I started to develop strong ideas about what education should be. My teacher afforded me the autonomy to do my own learning in class. My teacher also recognised how often I would spend time helping fellow students in class and hence gave me more freedom to take an active part in lessons, even going as far as getting me to teach some parts. The main 'philosophy' that I want to bring forward from that experience was to allow students some level of autonomy and to take responsibility for their own learning. Having autonomy, along with fostering a natural amount of inquisitiveness is what Claxton notes as being the hallmarks of a successful learner (Claxton, 2008). I have tried to build autonomy and engagement into topics that are typically considered ‘boring’, by providing just a simple framework for students to work and explore within. In the topic of rocks with year 8, the lessons focussed around demonstrations of the rock cycle and allowed the students to explore the process practically and use the framework of the sheet to express their own scientific ideas. This worked incredibly well and created a lot of excitement in an often dry topic.

The classroom environment should be a space in which students feel safe to ask questions and satisfy their own curiosity. For me, creating an atmosphere of scientific curiosity is of the utmost importance, but the concept needs a concrete definition. Jirout and Klahr (2012) suggest scientific curiosity should be defined as "the threshold of desired uncertainty in the environment that leads to exploratory behaviour” (Jirout and Klahr, 2012, p.125).

I believe that education works best when the students have some control of the direction of their learning, to be allowed to satisfy their curiosity. Within lessons, I’ve adopted the use of a Question box to allow students to ask me questions about the topics they are studying (as well as other topics entirely), so that educational tangents can be discussed without distracting from the lesson. I’ve also furthered students curiosity through a science club demonstration of the physics of hovercrafts to further their love of learning, which the students all enjoyed immensely and allowed me to write a piece in the school newsletter. Furthermore, I've been lucky enough to be involved with scientific outreach, demonstrating the chemistry of scents to 3 groups of year 6 students at a local primary school - using Lego models and practicals to inspire students about chemistry.


Claxton, G. (2008). What's the Point of School?: Rediscovering The Heart of Education. London: Oneworld Publications.

Jirout, J. and Klahr D. (2012). Children's scientific curiosity: In search of an operational definition of an elusive concept. Developmental Review, 32(2), pp. 125-160.

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