Not every student is as excited about physics as Einstein. Like mathematics, many students fear physics and hate learning the subject. It’s highly likely that a student will have an aversion towards physics if he/she hates math. This is understandable as physics can be challenging given the subject is content-heavy, and students find it incredibly difficult solving the problems in limited time in exams.
Furthermore, in physics, students have to memorize theories, formulas, principles, and everything in between. It is extremely hard and stressful. More importantly, most find that they don’t have the essential skills and aptitude to apply their theoretical knowledge for solving problems. Consequently, they end up hating physics, especially the tests. Some students think their teachers are incapable of teaching physics in the way they want to teach, while some blame the complexity of the discipline. Each student has his or her own set of excuses, but we won’t be talking about those here.
Nonetheless, it is undoubtedly possible to help students overcome their fear and hate for physics by following some tips! Let’s get started.
Why Do Students Hate Physics (And Eventually Mathematics)
First and foremost, before we delve into how to make physics enjoyable to kids, it’s necessary to find out the root cause of their hate of physics. Not only for physics, for any other subject, if you find your kids disliking it, it is vital to find out why.
Said that, do your students hate exams, regardless of the subject? Or is it because your child hates or has problems with memorizing? Perhaps, it may be that no matter how hard they try, their efforts do not reflect their grades. Either way, ask them the reasons why they hate physics or exams. I have some assumptions why a typical student hates studying and consequently hates math.
At first, allow me to tell you how a typical school teacher teaches physics:
- Gives theories and formulas to students to memorize without proper understanding
- Tell students memorizing theories and formulas is the only way to solve problems
- Giving students only a few seconds to come up with an answer
- Concentrating overly on computation and solutions rather than the methods
- Asking questions with a straight answer.
- Repeating questions in exams or tests that students already solved in the classroom
- Giving students fixed questions and telling the tests or exams will have these questions.
- Discouraging or not allowing students to solve problems in their way or method.
- Telling students that nobody likes physics or the subject is hard by nature, but they HAVE to learn.
Now, this is what many school students say why they do not like to learn physics:
- I hate the teacher.
- It is difficult and makes me look stupid.
- I don’t need physics in my life.
- I can use the calculator to solve problems, so I don’t need to memorize formulas or mathematical operations.
- I cannot remember the formulas.
A Detailed Look At The Physics Problem
Most students study physics the same way they study chemistry or biology, which is wrong. But unlike those subjects, physics has complex topics and formulas, which is why they get frustrated quickly. This is especially true when their grades are low and find no noticeable improvements despite studying hard.
The point here is that students should realize that physics is a conceptual subject, unlike other subjects. Physics deals with the abstract and immaterial side of the “matter” such as weight, speed, gravity, acceleration, and other concepts. These concepts should be taught and learned using a different method. Memorizing will do little here, but logical thinking will do all the work.
How To Combat Students Hate For Physics
Many students memorize theories and formulas during the exams thinking that this is the only way they will pass. But, the key here is to deconstruct those theories, formulas, laws, and principles first to simplify and make them understandable. But, it is not that easy to master such a skill, but teachers and home tutors can certainly help students with it.
Physics, as a whole, is built on various intertwined and interlinked theories or concepts. If students get stuck with physics problems, they are required to go back and review related and linked concepts. It is during these situations where students need the help of a teacher who will remind them of these concepts easily and quickly; otherwise will get frustrated or overwhelmed. The truth is—not resolving this issue will hamper their physics learning process.
Another notable hindrance in learning physics is the recurring use of mathematics. Solving problems in physics require students to be familiar with some math equations and formulas, and math teachers do not necessarily teach physics and vice versa. Hence, during physics classes students themselves need to figure out how to solve those problems, which leads to another set of challenges.
To teach physics properly and smoothly to students, teachers should play a mediating role between physics and mathematics. It is not realistic for students to keep asking their mathematics teacher about math problems, and vice versa. These issues should be resolved instantly in the classroom whenever the students ask for them. Alternatively, classes taught in The Physics Café may be a good option as the classes are taught by RJC tutor Mr Dave Sim whospecializes in both Physics and Maths.
Another possible to overcome physics tuition is through private physics tuition. In the school classroom, having a few dozen students can make it hard or even impractical for students to keep asking questions to clarify their doubts. But since physics is a topic that requires understanding, student-teacher interaction is essential. That is where the benefit of private physics tuition comes about.
Other worth noting approaches include:
- Encouraging students to discover formulas they need to solve problems, find other solutions and comparing them.
- Motivating students to criticize the teachers’ answers as well as of the other students.
- Encouraging students to come up with problems and suggest solutions
- Encouraging students to apply what they learned to real-life problems, analyze complex issues, and evaluating their work.
- Asking students to use shapes and diagrams for solving problems.
- Encouraging students to think creatively, look for new ideas and use them in your classroom.
- Motivating students to practice critical thinking when delivering presentations, discussions, tests, and assignments in the classroom.