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View from the classroom

• Tell us about some of your favourite topics to teach?

My first love is chemistry. I love teaching organic synthesis and have even started to love the physical chemistry aspect (all the maths stuff basically), which I hated when I was in school! I have always enjoyed making my students think, and watch them change their attitudes to topics the more they learn about them. Recently I have organised for the World’s Largest Lesson to be taught in PSHE - this is the initiative run by UNICEF which focuses on the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals. From a science specialist point of view, I was particularly interested in the environmental protection side of things, as well as sustainability; the idea of living within our means for the good of our future generations.

• Why do you think it is important that your students learn about this?

I think our current generation of students is so heavily influenced by the media and its ongoing attempt to get us to buy the newest gadgets, the finest clothes and the tastiest treats, that they think very little about others in the global community. We take for granted that we have clean water, shelter and electricity. Students need to know that not everyone can say the same, or have the same opportunities as they do. We also need to make them understand that the way we are treating the Earth will not be sustainable for our future generations. Our children’s children may not have the privileges that we have today, unless we start to think about sustainability as an important concept that we all need to take part in.

• How do you think this understanding might help pupils outside of the classroom? With all of my lessons, I always hope the students are engaged, and come away feeling enthused and empowered to be able to change not only their own destinies (be it passing exams or applying for courses/jobs), but to be able to have a hand in changing the world! I explain to the students that if everyone was to turn the tap off while cleaning their teeth, for example, together we could save millions and millions of gallons of clean water. This also means less chemicals, electricity, time and money are spent cleaning the water to be used again. It is small changes like this that everyone can make if they want to.

• How do you engage your students in this topic?

The lesson regarding saving water that I mentioned above can be especially effective when taught using mathematics. We can measure the amount of water used from a running tap for two minutes and extrapolate this for the class over a week/month/year or even the school, country or world! The numbers can sometimes be mind boggling. This is really engaging for my students to put things into perspective on a much wider scale.

• What has the general interest/feedback been like?

Students are usually very positive with regards to the ideas behind sustainability. They recognise that they do take for granted the resources they have been given but are often humbled by the

fact that they could do so much with so little effort. It’s a really rewarding topic to teach, but also very rewarding for the children to learn about!

• What do you enjoy most about teaching science?

As clichéd as this may sound, everything! I feel that it’s a subject that brings together many of the other skills that children learn throughout their time at school; maths, English, languages and art all have an intrinsic link to science. It is great to be able to see the students investigate problems and allow them time to discover the answers for themselves rather than just telling them. I love being a part of the learning process for our future doctors and engineers.


November 2015

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