There are lot of different concepts on how to best explain something to someone who are not even remotely familiar to that. Different educators have experimented different pedagogical techniques over the years. There is a popular belief that it is best to tell your audience what you are going to talk about, then talk about that and finally tell them what you just talked about. This seems to help register the contents of the lecture. During the last few classes in our PFP course we were going over how to effectively and efficiently communicating science to a broader audience. So I was wondering about this and a different train of thoughts came to my mind.
When we talk about communicating science to a broader audience, the question is how different is that role from an educator who wants to transfer knowledge to the student through his/her lecture?
I think, the teacher student scenario is a bit different from a science communicator-broad audience scenario. While it is always helpful to reduce the jargon and use common easily perceived examples to explain something in both scenarios, presenting a too simplistic picture to the student is something I don’t like. This might be OK for a broader audience. They are, at least not all of them, entirely eager in pursuit of the true scientific truth. The idea there is more to get a sense of association of the scientific work in the society: how it fits in. This help them decide its relevance and importance and whether or not to support it. For a student however, half-truth or simplistic versions of complex concepts are dangerous. When we are so engrossed in speaking common man’s language, the science may get lost in translation. It is important for an educator to present an as simple view of the truth as possible, as he knows it, to the student, but still pointing out the challenges and difficulties that make it interesting! The student should be given the opportunity to judge and appreciate the complexity of a concept. I don’t know if this is a personal thought and I am sure others have different opinion. So what do you think?
O, by the way, happy thanksgiving to everyone!