What Makes Science 'Science'?

Trainee teachers don't have a clue, and most scientists probably don't either. That's bad news.

James Williams
Sep 30, 2008
<figcaption> Credit: ® Alexander Fedorov</figcaption>
Credit: ® Alexander Fedorov

As a science educator, I train science graduates to become science teachers. Over the past two years I've surveyed their understanding of key terminology and my findings reveal a serious problem. Graduates, from a range of science disciplines and from a variety of universities in Britain and around the world, have a poor grasp of the meaning of simple terms and are unable to provide appropriate definitions of key scientific terminology. So how can these hopeful young trainees possibly teach science to children so that they become scientifically literate? How will school-kids learn to distinguish the questions and problems that science can answer from those that science cannot and, more importantly, the difference between science and pseudoscience?

Here are some of the data from the 74 graduates that I've surveyed...