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Hi David, Griff, Charles, Alice …


In response to comments above/conversations and apologies if I have misunderstood any aspect of this:


My first impression was in line with David’s i.e. that ultimately something would be produced that would be helpful to anyone with an interest in physics and in particular, school level physics.  So one crucial aim is to be able to influence the Government in terms of a consensus centred around the IOP about what should be in or out of a curriculum, or at least here is a framework for evaluating a curriculum.  Moving on from this, would be to provide a version to directly support teachers (specialists as well as non-specialists).  Our first job was to try to get the physics as clear as possible, and this was to start with trying to agree on suitable statements and then building on these to generate an overall framework for each of the main topics.  And then, presumably, the sort of structure that you are suggesting, David – that makes sense to me.  However, I think you and Griff have both pointed out that exactly what the purpose is and whether or not there will be multiple versions for different audiences is really important in terms of the language we use.  There are two main issues for me and I will try to be concise although …


The first picks up from Griff’s point.  I must admit I have tried to minimise my engagement with APP.  I really agree that there is a problem that some (maybe even many) teachers will copy whatever resources they get their hands on and use it in the classroom, whether or not such resources/spreadsheets/statements etc. are helpful for their students.  So all sorts of information about processes to do with teaching or administrating teaching or administrating assessment find their way into the classroom, sometimes at the expense of things that would really help the students in their endeavours.  I devoted a chapter in my PhD to the problems of such regulative/administrative knowledge and how it can get used, and often misused, in the classroom.  So, for example, there was evidence of quite a lot of ‘linking’ between physics-led concepts and non-physics led ‘concepts’ going on that appeared to do more damage than good.  E.g. pressure and moments being linked because different aspects (what would be our ‘statements’) within each topic being in the same SAT’s level.  In fact in a whole teaching sequence to a Year 9 class on Pressure and Moments, no physics-led conceptual links were made between any aspect of Pressure and any aspect of Moments at all.  This can be contrasted with how aspects of Pressure and Moments can be linked.  For example, the SPT resources on Forces (see topic map) nicely illustrate how both hydraulic systems and levers are simple machines, using the idea of force multipliers and that both the law of balancing for levers/moments and the pressures in hydraulic systems follow from the principle of Conservation of Energy.  By contrast, there were plenty of non-physics-led links in the teaching sequence referred to and students appeared to be more encouraged to make links between e.g. a Level 5 statement to do with Pressure and a Level 5 statement to do with Moments solely on the basis that they were in the same Level.  And all this seemed to do was to reinforce that for a Level 5 or a Level 6 student (and they had it reinforced which one of these they were) they should look across the table showing what other statements were Level 5 or Level 6 or whatever rather than looking down the table to make sense of how “pressure is affected by the area the force is applied over” (Level 5), is related to a qualitative understanding of “relationship between force and area” (Level 6) and then “pressure = force/area” (Level 7).  Anyway, this bit of the research was thankfully before APP but I think what you are raising is really important – that some teachers are prone to passing on to students whatever comes their way, highlights the need for care in what is presented to them.  Here, I presume, we should only be focussing on physics-led conceptual links and then subsequently get into the architecture as David suggests.


Following on from this is the importance of the language used at any stage of this as well as what I have referred to as the need for redundancy in the statements.  If I look at some of the language used in my version it could easily look like it was aimed more at e.g. non-specialist teachers.  However, I would prefer this sort of language that includes explanations/clarifications/helpful points to aid understanding as precisely necessary in the physics-only version of the map.  The reason we are so fond of narratives or mini-narratives is because the statements on their own simply aren’t enough.  I therefore see as necessary: that each statement should be thought of as being ‘full’ more than being ‘self-contained’; whilst we should continue to include some statements which appear to say the same thing in different ways, because the removal of either appears to be losing something.  Maybe I’m trying to say that the more ‘scientific’ and concise it looks, the less helpful it will be.  I think VUE is a really good medium for thinking in this way and can get us away from thinking about necessary and sufficient definitions, linearity, and ordering things in two dimensions.  It was only looking at VUE, that enabled me to replace the probably unhelpful term ‘redundancy’ (first came across it when trying to get to grips with complexity theory approaches to learning systems and it seemed to make sense to me then) with the term ‘overlapping’.  Of course, ‘overlapping’, that is exactly what I am trying to get at and VUE tells me that it is not just allowed, it can be encouraged.  Please see a very quick first attempt to represent how we could view statements that are deliberately ‘overlapping’, as opposed to those that we want to ‘link’ – in essence a different level of linking.  I hope this, and the attached, make sense.


Sorry I have gone on – I am just trying to think out loud about this and I hope it is helpful.    


Finally, David, in answer to your question, I will be at Workshop A (25th/26th) and look forward to seeing you there.


Thanks for listening



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