As a student…
There are nine planets orbiting the Sun, in what is called the Solar System. The Solar System exists in a galaxy called the Milky Way, which is one of many galaxies in the Universe. Naturally, all of this was taught in Swedish, so I firmly believed that the Milky Way was actually called the “Winter Street”, in direct translation. In a way, my first brush with the basics of astronomy was already associated with the fact that science can be different in different countries, but that the roots of certain words remained the same. Galaxy and galax, Sun and Sol.
Most students will experience contradiction in the information they receive more than once. For me, the most marked case was that of the centrifugal force. At GCSE it was a real force that gave name to centrifuges and functioned in washing machines. At A level it certainly did not exist, but was a side effect of the more constant centripetal force, that acted “opposite to” the presumed centrifugal force. Finally, at university, you are informed that the centrifugal force is a psuedo-force, that cannot act on its own. Then you will ask yourself, what good is a psuedo-force for anyway?!
As you ascend through school, nomenclature becomes increasingly important, and one is made aware of the fact that accuracy is key. Using the right word to describe the correct phenomenon came as a predecessor to the act of carrying out experiments in fair environments, and taught us all to keep an eye out for details. Once out of the tunnel of compulsory education and into the light, or some say even darker tunnel, that is university, you realise that you did, in fact, not learn much actual science at all, but instead had you cerebellum formatted to receive science in its true capacity. To hypothesise, to draw conclusions, to take all anomalies into account when professing a result. Of course, this is information that never dawns until it is all over.
As a teacher…
If one ever has the privilege of returning to any scholarly environment as an educator, many surprises are in store. For one, you will learn that as scientific research progress, the nature of science education changes as well. You will be at once astounded by the introduction of new and interesting material in the national curriculum, but also be disappointed by the what is missing. Most people who have made the transition from student to teacher have told me that they find the second encounter just as bewildering as the first time around, and that, you never really make the transition at all. You are still very much a student. Only with the privilege of being paid to learn.
Personally, I learned that young people are disappointingly indifferent to science and technology in the classroom. As soon as you start to draw parallels to popular culture, however, their interest piques. Perhaps then, it is time to take science out of the classroom, and into the real world.
By the way, you found me out – I have moved house very recently and have been eating junk that I do not want to broadcast to any potential readers. I am THAT vain. Will try to start by November! Hope everybody is coping well with the cold snap.