Teaching Physics Phenomenologically - booklet -

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Teaching Physics Phenomenologically - booklet -
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Electricity and the Practice of Embodied Learning

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Author: Wilfried Sommer
Booklet: 70 pages
Product Dimensions: 15 x 21 cm
1. Edition: 2019

The world with its wealth of appearances can move and enchant us in ever new ways. When we teach physics, we face the challenge of taking our students on a journey on which, in encountering the magic of the phenomena, they are able to discover for themselves the joy of understanding. They are allowed to be present as the first meeting with a phenomenon flows into a thoughtful consideration of its appearing. They can (and should) learn to be sensitive to how thinking through a series of phenomena can cast light on their specific nature, as well as how premature theorizing can cast them in a false light.
This booklet explores a series of teaching experiences and considers them from a didactic perspective. It is an attempt to gain a better understanding of a phenomenological approach both as teaching method and as a way to understand the world.
Although phenomenological approaches can be clearly described and epistemologically defined when generalized, their application in particular cases is a source of controversy. Time and again we find that the full scope of the phenomenological method only becomes apparent when we apply it to specific phenomena.
For this reason, I have kept the general discussion of phenomenology brief. A deeper sense for the approach should become apparent as we follow how concepts of voltage, current, electrical fields and charge arise from the observation and consideration of selected series of experiments. These are assigned to various grades as is common in many Waldorf schools.
When we observe what comes to appearance in the world, our interest is naturally focused outside of ourselves. When we consider what we have observed and search for conceptual relationships, we distance ourselves from our immediate, personal experience. This becomes something we take into consideration from a place of reflective remove.
The body plays a central role in this process that is initiated by the appearing of a phenomenon and that leads to a conceptual understanding of it. Examples taken from teaching mechanics and optics illustrate how when teaching physics we can draw on bodily experience and allow it to become a bridge spanning immediate experience and conceptual understanding. The body, through which we, on the one hand, find ourselves looking out at the world, is also the key to overcoming the subject-object consciousness arising from this sense of confrontation.
In the chapter concerning phenomenology, electricity and the role of the body in learning are frequent references to ongoing academic discussions of subject-specific didactics. The original German version of this text addresses them in more detail.

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