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Old 06-30-2011, 09:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
So you think it's ok to teach them something that is WRONG????? Students not being developmentally ready for one model is not justification for teaching something that is incorrect. What is the purpose of teaching the incorrect solar system model of the atom when all it accomplishes is confusion later?
The solar system model of the atom is a step in the understand of an atomic model. And just to be clear here. The model of the atom is an evolving thing and is in no way "fixed" in its current form.

Quote:
While I agree students aren't ready for statistics, they can be taught that the electrons are located in energy levels located a various distances from the nucleus. There is NO excuse for teaching something that is just plain wrong.
Whoa! Hold on a sec there. What you just stated is WRONG as well. Electrons are not "located at in energy levels located at various distances from the nucleus". They are likely to be there but that is a very clear difference. The Bohr's Model (which you are describing above) is just as wrong as the solar system model. The model you describe above cannot accurate predict a huge variety of quantum behaviors. When you add in Schroedinger and then Heisenberg the model of energy levels becomes less and less accurate and you must then incorporate a model based on quantum mechanics far outside the grasp on a high school chem student who likely has not had physics let alone quantum.

In reality electrons are not "located" anywhere but are really just standing waves some of which have NO angular momentum making the "orbitals" themselves no longer aptly named.

The purpose of any model is to aid in understanding. For many people who are not abstract thinkers the solar system model aids in understanding simple concepts. The Bohr and Wave models do no more then aid in understand a more difficult concept. But they are no more "correct" in any sort of absolute sense than the solar system model.

The reality is that the concept is not confusing because the students were taught an incorrect model the concept is confusing because it is CONFUSING. Hell, people are still working on all things quantum and are still tweaking all of these "models". Someday people will be smacking their foreheads over our current understanding of atoms and electrons. The role of a teacher, especially in a field like science, is to reinforce the idea that all models are just ways to fit abstract concepts in to a concrete human imagination and that ALL models are inherently flawed.
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Old 07-01-2011, 04:41 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
The solar system model of the atom is a step in the understand of an atomic model. And just to be clear here. The model of the atom is an evolving thing and is in no way "fixed" in its current form.



Whoa! Hold on a sec there. What you just stated is WRONG as well. Electrons are not "located at in energy levels located at various distances from the nucleus". They are likely to be there but that is a very clear difference. The Bohr's Model (which you are describing above) is just as wrong as the solar system model. The model you describe above cannot accurate predict a huge variety of quantum behaviors. When you add in Schroedinger and then Heisenberg the model of energy levels becomes less and less accurate and you must then incorporate a model based on quantum mechanics far outside the grasp on a high school chem student who likely has not had physics let alone quantum.

In reality electrons are not "located" anywhere but are really just standing waves some of which have NO angular momentum making the "orbitals" themselves no longer aptly named.

The purpose of any model is to aid in understanding. For many people who are not abstract thinkers the solar system model aids in understanding simple concepts. The Bohr and Wave models do no more then aid in understand a more difficult concept. But they are no more "correct" in any sort of absolute sense than the solar system model.

The reality is that the concept is not confusing because the students were taught an incorrect model the concept is confusing because it is CONFUSING. Hell, people are still working on all things quantum and are still tweaking all of these "models". Someday people will be smacking their foreheads over our current understanding of atoms and electrons. The role of a teacher, especially in a field like science, is to reinforce the idea that all models are just ways to fit abstract concepts in to a concrete human imagination and that ALL models are inherently flawed.
No!!! The solar system model of the atom is wrong!!! It's not a step towards understanding. If it were, it would help kids understand the current model not prevent them from understanding!!! Care to explain to me how the solar system model leads to the electron cloud model??? The only thing remotely similar is the idea of distinct energy levels that are, progressively, farther and farther from the nucleus but you can teach that without electrons orbiting around the nucleaus like planets around a sun. This theory isn't an aid, it becomes a stumbling block to learning the model that is, currently, considered correct. Even after teaching the correct model of the atom I have students who can't let go of the simple, incorrect, one they were taught years earlier. I would rather the model not be taught at all than have it taught wrong. To make matters worse, I start with the Bohr model which students take as reinforcement of the incorrect solar system model even though I never present it that way and make it a point to tell them that the solar system model is wrong. By the time they get to me, the solar system model is too deeply engrained.

It's one thing to teach what you believe to be true when it is believed to be true and quite another to teach what you know to be false because you find it too difficult to teach something that actually resembles the truth. Teaching things you know to be wrong, that will have to be corrected later and will become a stumbling block is not an aid to learning. We'd be farther ahead if this was never taught until chemsitry when we tackle the electron cloud model of the atom. At least I wouldn't have to unteach the wrong material and fight it's persistance. You cannot justify teaching things that you know are wrong simply because they're easy and that is what has happened here. I can teach the electron cloud model better to kids who have never seen the solar system model than to kids who have.

There was a time when we didn't know better and speculated that electrons orbited like little planets around a sun. We know better now. Then it was ok to teach. Now it isn't. The same will happen with any theories we have wrong right now. We'll change what we teach when we know it is wrong. We know the solar system model of the atom is wrong. It's time to drop it.

As to my model being wrong (it's not wrong, it's incomplete and there is a HUGE difference) I repeat, you don't have to get into the statistics to come up with a simple model that has electrons "located" in energy levels. Yes, we're talking probabilities here but you don't need to talk probabilities to come up with a basic model of the atom....one that doesn't involve electrons orbiting like planets around a sun. Simplyfing a model means leaving things off not making things up. Saying the electrons are "in", because students would understand "in", the energy levels is a whole lot closer to the truth than "they are orbiting like little planets around the sun IN energy levels". I find it funny that you find orbiting like planets IN energy levels ok but take offense to my saying they're just in the energy levels. The solar system model involves what we know to be an out and out lie. Mine involves a simplification and kids can be told it is a simplification. I'd rather leave off the probability stuff and teach only the energy levels and come back to the probability model later than teach a model I know to be wrong that will create nothing but confusion later.

BTW, I used a set of Russian nesting dolls to teach my kids about atoms. I just told them we know about how far the electrons are from the nucleus (each layer) but we don't know where they will be on that surface (each doll). There are other models that don't lead to the confusion that the solar system model creates. I like the Russian nesting dolls because they are not circular or spherical so when I get into shapes of orbitals later, it's no big surprise. Well, it's still a surprise because, let's fact it, this is wierd stuff but I'm not fighting an incorrectly taught model.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 07-01-2011 at 05:06 AM..
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Old 07-01-2011, 08:56 AM
 
15,743 posts, read 13,171,628 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
No!!! The solar system model of the atom is wrong!!! It's not a step towards understanding. If it were, it would help kids understand the current model not prevent them from understanding!!! Care to explain to me how the solar system model leads to the electron cloud model??? The only thing remotely similar is the idea of distinct energy levels that are, progressively, farther and farther from the nucleus but you can teach that without electrons orbiting around the nucleaus like planets around a sun. This theory isn't an aid, it becomes a stumbling block to learning the model that is, currently, considered correct. Even after teaching the correct model of the atom I have students who can't let go of the simple, incorrect, one they were taught years earlier. I would rather the model not be taught at all than have it taught wrong. To make matters worse, I start with the Bohr model which students take as reinforcement of the incorrect solar system model even though I never present it that way and make it a point to tell them that the solar system model is wrong. By the time they get to me, the solar system model is too deeply engrained.

It's one thing to teach what you believe to be true when it is believed to be true and quite another to teach what you know to be false because you find it too difficult to teach something that actually resembles the truth. Teaching things you know to be wrong, that will have to be corrected later and will become a stumbling block is not an aid to learning. We'd be farther ahead if this was never taught until chemsitry when we tackle the electron cloud model of the atom. At least I wouldn't have to unteach the wrong material and fight it's persistance. You cannot justify teaching things that you know are wrong simply because they're easy and that is what has happened here. I can teach the electron cloud model better to kids who have never seen the solar system model than to kids who have.

There was a time when we didn't know better and speculated that electrons orbited like little planets around a sun. We know better now. Then it was ok to teach. Now it isn't. The same will happen with any theories we have wrong right now. We'll change what we teach when we know it is wrong. We know the solar system model of the atom is wrong. It's time to drop it.

As to my model being wrong (it's not wrong, it's incomplete and there is a HUGE difference) I repeat, you don't have to get into the statistics to come up with a simple model that has electrons "located" in energy levels. Yes, we're talking probabilities here but you don't need to talk probabilities to come up with a basic model of the atom....one that doesn't involve electrons orbiting like planets around a sun. Simplyfing a model means leaving things off not making things up. Saying the electrons are "in", because students would understand "in", the energy levels is a whole lot closer to the truth than "they are orbiting like little planets around the sun IN energy levels". I find it funny that you find orbiting like planets IN energy levels ok but take offense to my saying they're just in the energy levels. The solar system model involves what we know to be an out and out lie. Mine involves a simplification and kids can be told it is a simplification. I'd rather leave off the probability stuff and teach only the energy levels and come back to the probability model later than teach a model I know to be wrong that will create nothing but confusion later.

BTW, I used a set of Russian nesting dolls to teach my kids about atoms. I just told them we know about how far the electrons are from the nucleus (each layer) but we don't know where they will be on that surface (each doll). There are other models that don't lead to the confusion that the solar system model creates. I like the Russian nesting dolls because they are not circular or spherical so when I get into shapes of orbitals later, it's no big surprise. Well, it's still a surprise because, let's fact it, this is wierd stuff but I'm not fighting an incorrectly taught model.
You think the nesting dolls is a "correct" way to picture orbitals?

REALLY?

Based on the post above I seriously question your knowledge on the actual atom. The wave model needs to include FAR MORE than "probabilities" to predict anything close to correct behavior of atoms. Electrons ARE NEVER IN A SINGLE LOCATION.

You seem to think the models you are teaching are correct. I assume you teach VSPER but the reality is VSPER is incredibly crude and downright wrong in the majority of bonding situations. Be that as it may I still do not teach high school students MO (a more correct model) because it is outside their grasp based on their current understanding. Why? because VSPER is easier to understand.

But I also make it clear to all of my students the nature of models. You do not appear to do this. I explain to them that even the Wave Model is a VAST over simplification and is not how atoms actually "look" either. My students know that all of the models used along the way learning chemistry are fundamentally flawed and that includes the idea that electrons have "locations" (SINCE THEY DO NOT).

It is hypocritical bordering on disturbing that you think that mid-level model of understanding is "correct" and a model that is just even more simplified is "wrong". You do know that they are called "orbitals" because the was once considered the "correct" atomic model right?

You know what, maybe the higher degree thing is not a bad idea, especially in the field people teach since some do not seem particularly well versed in their own subject. I have had my mind changed to the necessity. Good job OP.
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Old 07-01-2011, 09:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
It's one thing to teach what you believe to be true when it is believed to be true and quite another to teach what you know to be false because you find it too difficult to teach something that actually resembles the truth. .
I would agree. Moreover, to acknowledge the issue brought up above -- the idea that the Bohr model is not a perfect description of electron behavior either -- I think it's honest (and very do-able) for an elementary or middle school science teacher to say, "Look at all the cool ways electrons move in relation to the nucleus," and also to say, "This model is the most accurate to date, but we change our minds when we get new ideas." That's not too difficult to communicate -- and you don't even need to lean on the idea that heavily, either. I think it's sufficient to say so a few times, get the kids to understand that science is always evolving, and move on.

Like Ivory, though, I do not believe in teaching a concept which is flat-out incorrect. The Bohr model is not perfect, but it's a lot "righter," as it were, than the solar system model...and if there's a better one than the Bohr model, teach that one.
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Old 07-01-2011, 09:28 AM
 
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Wow. I don't even have a clue what you guys are talking about. Does that make me too dumb to be a teacher? Or, is it just that teachers need to know what they teach? Yep.

I took a university class, and it was obvious that the teacher did not know the subject, she had read the text book, and reguritated the material. It was a boring class, and I found it frustrating. No questions could be asked, because the teacher did not know any answers.

But another class, with a professor who not only knew the subject, but expanded on it, and provided additional trensferable knowledge, was very interesting and engaging.

The answer is not to make teaching degrees more difficult, but to change the education model, elementary school teachers should not have to know all subjects to teach them. Have math specialists, reading specialists, writing specialists, science specialists. That would enhance and enrich elementary school education.
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Old 07-01-2011, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Metairie, La.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stan4 View Post
People keep talking about recruiting better teachers by paying more money for the job. It makes sense. Better competition generally brings better candidates.

After listening to the Miss America candidates (some of whom are future teachers) speak last night, I am reminded of how many of the people I know who teach (or hold the credentials) are really not...very...smart...

I propose we make obtaining teaching credentialing more difficult by actually making it HARD to graduate your training as a teacher.

Many other degrees/professions weed out the weak and incompetent by making the coursework very difficult and time-consuming.

For example, my pre-med INTRO chemistry class (also taken by other serious science majors) had a curve that purposely failed 40% of the students. The message was, "Hey...this is only getting tougher and you can't hack it (either bc of aptitude or commitment to the hard work/competition)." The people who did well had to really want it.

The investment of time and energy that it takes to obtain these degrees (as well as the competition) results in careers in more competitive fields that tend to yield higher pay.

Meanwhile, I know people who spent their entire college career drunk and played the '2.0 and go' game because they knew they could always fall back on teaching.

One might argue that it would lead to a shortage of teachers, but at the rate they're being laid off lately, I don't think that would be as much of a problem anymore.

I have always loved and respected teachers, and I have been brought up to revere them (Indian parents). They should be paid well - the future is in their hands. But maybe they should have to EARN that privilege...just as I have had to earn the privilege of holding someone's heart in my hand.

Discuss.
Great post and thread.

Teaching degrees are a dime a dozen and the easiest thing for the majority of college students who major in education. The school of edu at my university is a joke and the graduate students in that program will tell you as much.

Back a long time ago when I was a sports reporter for a newspaper, I noticed that many athletic coaches were going to night school to get their administrator's license (or degree). I was thinking that if they had time to teach classes, coach at least two sports (like football and track for example), be a family man (or woman), and go to night school--then it had to be easy.

A guy in my department got his master's in May of 2010 and then jumped to the school of edu to get his Ed.D. I saw him six weeks into it and he said it was a cakewalk.

No wonder why there are too many teachers (except the difficult subject areas like foreign languages, math, and sciences) and too many teachers who are poorly prepared to teach students.

As for my experience, in my undergrad history surveys that I teach, I find that consistently the edu majors are the worst students. They don't come to class with any consistency and the whine that the exams are not multiple choice questions. And they cannot write an essay to save their lives.

If public edu in this country is suffering, it's because teaching training at edu schools sucks!
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Old 07-01-2011, 11:15 AM
 
6,550 posts, read 12,608,164 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
They could also try teaching in other countries where the student is expected to be engaged and values education.

The difference, in other countries, is not that the teachers are engaging. It's that the students choose to be engaged.
And here we come together again. I whole-heartedly agree. However, since I don't see the American pupil suddenly gaining the values of an Indian or Japanese pupil in the next few decades, we unfortunately need to be a little more inventive in our methods sometimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler
And I disagree, a teacher can learn to be as engaging as the next teacher over. It's not like it's not a skill you can learn.
Its a social skill. Sure, you can teach a social outcaste how to go talk to a girl, but it doesn't mean he's going to be effective or successful at it.

Same thing applies here.
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Old 07-01-2011, 11:37 AM
 
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I confess, I have not read all (or most) of the posts in this thread (yet), but I want to respond to the original post.

It has become more difficult to get a teaching credential. In the 1980s California discovered that some teachers were barely literate and started requiring the CBEST (a very easy test). It was a start. Now teachers usually have to pass some other test (usually Praxis).

But for the most part, "more difficult" just meant "more hassle" and "more hoops." Education classes are still a joke.

I agree that there should be higher requirements for teachers - but not more education classes and graduate degrees. All teachers ought to be well educated in at least English, foreign language, math, science, history, government, and economics.

But that will not happen because the pay is not high enough; the pay will never be high enough because teachers are paid with public money.
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Old 07-01-2011, 12:05 PM
 
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I don't agree with the above post. None of my work with blind or deaf children required me to know those subjects. I did learn sign language. But I worked on learning Braille, adaptive equipment, knowledge of eye diseases, pathology, etiology, and progression. I was a certified mobility instructor, with Low Vision certification.

Would you rather have a teacher who knows a little bit about a lot of subjects, or complete, and comprehensive knowledge of one subject?

I would rather have a teacher who is competent in the subject that they teach.
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Old 07-01-2011, 02:01 PM
 
15,743 posts, read 13,171,628 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Wallace View Post
I would agree. Moreover, to acknowledge the issue brought up above -- the idea that the Bohr model is not a perfect description of electron behavior either -- I think it's honest (and very do-able) for an elementary or middle school science teacher to say, "Look at all the cool ways electrons move in relation to the nucleus," and also to say, "This model is the most accurate to date, but we change our minds when we get new ideas." That's not too difficult to communicate -- and you don't even need to lean on the idea that heavily, either. I think it's sufficient to say so a few times, get the kids to understand that science is always evolving, and move on.

Like Ivory, though, I do not believe in teaching a concept which is flat-out incorrect. The Bohr model is not perfect, but it's a lot "righter," as it were, than the solar system model...and if there's a better one than the Bohr model, teach that one.
The Bohr model is also flat out wrong.

The problem is the only "correct" model is far outside the ability of most people to visualize especially high school students who do not understand quantum mechanics. It is not just about probability as Ivory is stating.

The reason we teach models at all is to simplify. All models should be taught with that clearly stated. If you tell a child that the solar system model is an oversimplification that is no different then teaching them the Bohr model which is also an over simplification.
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