This conference has been concerned with "Turning
the Challenge into Opportunities: the Historic Mission of the Physics
Teacher for the Next Millennium".
The very rapid changes of knowledge and techniques
in science and technology, and the changes they have caused and will
continue to cause in our societies, define the challenge and the mission
for us as teachers in the next millennium. It is the challenge of
life-long learning and understanding for all.
This challenge has many parts.
For us as teachers, and as teachers of teachers, it
is the challenge of personal professional development. The profession
of teaching also needs, now more than ever, to become one of life-long
development. It is the process of keeping up-to-date in developments
in physics and related sciences, keeping up-to-date in the developments
in physics education research, in developments in curriculum reform
and instructional methods and technologies, and in examination, evaluation,
and assessment theories and techniques including self-assessment.
In meeting these challenges, it is very important
for teachers to have strong support for their work. It is not realistic
to believe that they can do it all without support. They need support
from their colleagues at work, and support from school and university
administrators, and at the national level.
Money is an important aspect of support in the form
of better salaries and funds for travel to important educational conferences.
But time is also a very important source of support: time to study
and to discuss educational problems with colleagues, time to try educational
experiments and to analyze the results, time to see where and how
improvements might be made and to try the new ideas.
Teachers can help and support each other in local
groups in which they discuss their problems and their research and
analyze their results.
The existence of high-speed connections to the Internet
and the World Wide Web make it possible to have discussions and share
ideas with teachers in other parts of the country and even with physics
teachers anywhere in the world. The Web also opens up a tremendous
source of information, ideas and instructional materials to the individual
physics teacher. One of the things that needs to be explored is how
best to use this resource. Standards of quality for judging materials
are very much needed and should be shared widely among physics teachers.
Another part of the challenge is the challenge of
helping students including prospective teachers to learn
and understand. It is the challenge of motivating them to see the
value to themselves of becoming actively involved in the process
of learning and of taking serious responsibility for their own learning.
The conference has provided us with various examples
of some ways to motivate students, for example, involving them in
the solution of "real-life" problems, and in the design
of practical projects. Another part of the challenge is recognizing
the diversity of students and their different styles of learning,
and adapting teaching methods to suit the individual student. Here,
also, help for the teacher can come from the results of physics education
research, from discussions with colleagues and with the students themselves,
and from the many resources available on the Web.
A third challenge is the challenge of the relations
of teachers with the rest of society. In times of rapid change such
as we have now, people often become uncomfortable and look for quick
and easy solutions to what they see as their problems. There is no
doubt that there are problems in the educational systems in every
country, but in some cases the cure proposed is worse for the country
than the disease.
In the long term interest of the health of their own
countries, physics teachers need to help educate the people who determine
the local, regional and national policies on education. This is especially
true for science education. In many countries, the number of required
hours for science education has recently been reduced. Where curricula
are determined locally, individual teachers can do much to help the
situation. Where there are national curricula that must be followed,
the problem is much more difficult and requires much hard work on
the part of the individuals and professional societies. It is often
a very slow process to change peoples minds, but it is important
to keep trying.
Here, again, the Internet can serve as an important
way of keeping good contact and communication among groups of teachers.
Finally, the participants in the conference have some
challenges for the organizers of future conferences.
Conference proceedings nowadays are usually prepared
on a computer, so electronic files are available. Putting the proceedings
on a website would make them available to a much larger group of teachers
at little, if any, cost.
People from around the world are interested to learn
about the educational systems of the countries they visit. Organizers
may make provisions for optional visits to typical schools, colleges,
and universities and institutes to see how physics education is done
in the host country.
Also, in addition to the general sightseeing tours,
organizers may take advantage of local places to visit on "science
field trips" such as those in Workshop 3C in this conference.
Organizers may include sessions on the demographics
of physics education in the host country and in other countries represented
at the conference. What is happening in physics enrollments and required
class hours in physics teaching at all levels is of interest to all
teachers around the world.
Lectures and demonstration shows open to the public
are important ways of connecting with the general public. In addition,
organizers may wish to consider awarding prizes or other recognition
to excellent students and to young teachers who are doing excellent
wok and show promise of becoming leaders in physics education in the
Conference organizers may wish to provide "pre-"
and "post-" questionnaires to the participants. What do
they expect to gain from the conference? What parts of the conference
were not valuable to them? This feedback from the participants can
be of help in evaluating the success of the conference and of help
in planning future conferences.
Statement from the
`99 International Conference of Physics Teachers and Educators
Why Teach Science
There are many good reasons.
Science helps us find out about the structure of the
universe, of how things work and our place in it. It brings us new
knowledge, and helps us understand. Science is one of the major achievements
of the minds and imagination of the people in the world. It helps
to prepare future generations for their place in an increasingly complex
and technological society.
What to Teach in Science In a rapidly changing world
where new knowledge is being created at an astounding rate, learning
has become a life-long process. Physics in particular is an important
subject with which to teach students how to learn more about the world.
We can not teach all of physics, but we can bring to all students
a knowledge and understanding of parts of the subject, and show them
how they are connected to the world.
How to Teach Science
We learn in different ways, and although each of us
must learn for ourselves, we can all - teachers and students - also
learn from each other. The important thing is that each of us take
an active part in our own learning process, and experience the satisfaction
that comes from knowing that we can learn and understand new things