I read an article recently on the BBC website about the difficulty of media studies vs chemistry.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8248321.stm

Based on the hard data i.e. the pass rate of the two subjects, it appears as though chemistry is the far easier subject. Putting all controversial arguments aside (and there are many), I think the article vastly under-estimates the effect of engagement on behalf of the students and the teachers on the results. In my own limited experience I have found that the enthusiasm of a teacher can have dramatic effects on the attitudes and interest of the students to the subject matter. Also, the inherent interest of a student can surpass even the most engaged of teachers. In lessons for science, as in every other topic teachers should strive to engage themselves and their students in the subject matter.

Children are not all that different from adults in that they have no time for things that do not interest them, or at least things that don’t serve a purpose for them. Being interested and excited about a subject makes it inherently easier to learn. I personally found physics a cumbersome and time consuming chore only to realise as a teacher how much physics shapes our everyday world. Now I wish I had payed more attention in class.

Your enthusiasm as a teacher does effect your students. If you can find something interesting and engaging about your subject matter I am sure your students will as well. I have listed below the three best ways I have found to engage my own students.

1) Find out what your students are interested in and try to find a way to relate that to the subject matter.
2) Find something in the subject matter that interests you. Excitement is contagious, as is boredom!
3) Don’t be afraid to have fun. Theatre, games and laughter are good teaching tools.

How do you engage your students?