Physics education in the UK, at both secondary and tertiary level, is facing a number of very serious current and future challenges. I will present an overview of what these are and what has brought us to this position. Rather than be able to offer any magic bullets (because there aren't any) I will argue that the best we can do is endeavour to better understand the causes of these complex problems. One such way to do this is to apply a slightly more scientific approach to teaching science. There are measurements that we can make, and data that we can capture and analyse. All too often, we don't do this, relying instead on ‘what worked for me’ or failing to recognise how different the landscape of the subject can look when viewed through a novice's eyes. I will present some examples of what can be done and also confront one or two ‘elephants in the room’, which may make slightly uncomfortable listening for some.
I will also highlight some education-based research and development projects that I have been involved with in Edinburgh over recent years, particularly those that have had a subtle and wonderfully subversive effect on the way people think about (and go about) their teaching activities, both within and outwith Physics.
Our General Interest Seminars are an opportunity for distinguished speakers to present new research in physics and related areas. The material presented is suitable for undergraduate level upwards and all members of the School are welcome to attend..