Developing pedagogical content knowledge for teaching science to young learners
Van der Walt, Mara Anetta
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The 21st century with all of its technological advances also brings about challenges for science teaching in preparing the adults of tomorrow for the challenges of the future. Science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics education has become crucial in the preparation of the future citizens of the modern world. The rationale for this study is to obtain an in-depth view of the development of the young child in terms of the possibility of scientific reflection, as well as identifying possible methodology and content in the teaching and learning of science relevant to specific age phases. Based on this information, a framework for the teaching and learning of science by the young child is created. The framework should enable the learning of science that can be utilised by future policy developers of curricula, not only in South Africa but also in an international context. The cultural-historical activity theory of Vygotsky and the post-Vygotskians is used for studying the development of the young child in terms of physical, mental, emotional, and social development. Vygotsky’s constructivist theory defines age in terms of specific changes that take place in the structure of the child’s mental processes and the major developmental accomplishments that emerge as the child is growing up in a unique social situation of development. Without the child’s needs, inclinations, incentives, and motives to act, there will never be any advance from one stage to the next. Each advance from one age-related level to another relates to an abrupt change in motives and incentives to act. The methodologies investigated for the development of scientific reflection of the young child was play, playworlds or scientific playworlds, and inquiry-based science education. Play is defined by Vygotsky and other post-Vygotskian scholars, such as Leontiev and Elkonin, as dramatic or make-believe play. Make-belief play has the following three components: creating an imaginary situation; taking on and acting out roles; and following a set of rules determined by specific roles. The concept of playworlds was coined by Lindqvist and based on Vygotsky’s theory. Lindqvist made use of stories and the dramatisation of stories, where the stories had traces of basic conflict situations. Children often relate to their surroundings in a dramatic way. Play is a dynamic meeting between the child’s internal activities (emotions and thoughts) and external ones. Scientific playworlds begin with a collective imaginary situation, drawing on a cultural device relating to the science to be learnt, and make it necessary for children to go on a scientific journey, producing the dynamic imaginary scientific context. Children then need to build a scientific narrative to solve scientific problems. The imaginary play is the context, the motive, and the narrative, binding together science learning for children. The third pedagogy considered for science teaching of the young child is inquiry-based science education. Scientific inquiry represents the diverse ways in which scientists work to generate and validate knowledge. It involves the gathering of evidence, the consideration of possible explanations, and is about performing experiments and making observations. Content for a science curriculum was investigated to identify content that would be applicable for children in the different age groups. The possible content can be divided into physics, chemistry, biology or ecology, and planets, systems, and electronic control.
- Education