Lifelong Learning Programme

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Teaching at the Heart of Learning: Successful Experiences and Good Practices in Chemistry Teaching in Ireland

Marie Walsh

Limerick Institute of Technology

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Chemistry is all Around Us: our lives without Chemistry and the advances it has allowed in healthcare, hygiene, energy production, materials and technologies would be very different. In spite of this reality Chemistry as a school subject has suffered from negative perceptions, with even the word ‘Chemical’ inspiring negative reactions. It is also perceived as a mathematical and abstract subject, best-suited to only the most academically able students. However, these perceptions are a disservice to Chemistry and its value for society as a whole. From the earliest stages of education we can instill an appreciation of Chemistry for its own sake, that may or may not lead to more students studying Chemistry as a subject at second and third level, but that will at least redress the balance to a more favourable and positive perception of the value of Chemistry. Ask any scientist, engineer or technical professional about how and why they chose their career path and often they will tell about a special person who recognized, nurtured and encouraged their curiosity when they were younger. Most times this person will be an educator, a teacher or mentor, who has engaged through example: natural curiosity, innovative methods and a spirit of sharing with enthusiasm. Teaching is at the heart of learning, and learning to teach and to continuously self-reflect and update knowledge and pedagogical methods is vital. This paper surveys successful experiences and good practices in Chemistry teaching in Ireland, describing the importance of the initial teacher education and continuous professional development. It also underlines the importance of connecting Chemistry Education Research with Chemistry in the Classroom.

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National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.