Discussion: Keynote Part 1

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posted by: Deborah Ball on May 12, 2003 at 12:00PM
subject: Welcome and General Questions Related to the Keynote
I’d like to welcome you to the discussion of my keynote address. I
generally design my “live” talks to be quite interactive, involving the
audience in trying out and discussing problems, examples, ideas that my
colleagues and I have developed at the University of Michigan. In this
“virtual” talk, I have tried to create a similar experience for you.
In many ways, however, this virtual venue presents exciting
possibilities for me that are not typically available during a one-hour
talk. So often, I only have the chance to listen in on one or two
discussions as small groups consider the questions I’ve posed. And it
is always with regret that I must cut off these discussions prematurely
when people have only just begun to talk. This is a special opportunity
for me and I look forward to the discussions we will have here.

Overall, I am interested in your reactions to the ideas that I have
tried to open up in this keynote. Does the idea of “content knowledge”
for teaching make sense to you? What is puzzling or unconvincing?
What is not as easy to understand or grasp? What new insights does
this perspective offer for developing teachers’ capacity to work with

Given that my investigations have been almost entirely within
mathematics, how do the ideas work when we consider the teaching of
science? What are some of the key scientific “tasks” that teachers of
science do? What are some of the key elements of the scientific
reasoning that arise in the course of teaching science? It will be
difficult not to return simply to the typical curricular approach to
defining the subject-specific content teachers “need” to know –– that
is, by describing what they have to teach. But what are some of the
scientific issues, considerations, problems and dilemmas that teachers
face when they are helping students learn science, for which they need
special scientific sensibilities, sophistication, and knowledge? Are
there aspects of scientific knowledge that are called upon in teaching
science that the scientist or other professional user of scientific
knowledge does not need?

I am pleased that you have decided to participate in this conference
and look forward to our work over the next ten days.
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