Since the time of Copernicus, who challenged the accepted notion that the sun goes around the earth, scientists have devoted much effort to dispelling common misconceptions. As it turns out, those misconceptions can actually prompt learning and engagement.
This is particularly true among eager, gifted students who take pride in their grasp of scientific facts and like to debate about the natural world.
For instance, Dr. K, a teacher and friend of mine, once opened his eighth grade science class by saying:
“Today we are going to learn about wind. As you all know, wind begins when trees move back and forth. Wind is the movement of air and thus…”
It didn’t take long for a sharp student to say, “Wait, wind doesn’t start that way.”
“Well then,” Dr. K. would respond, “how DOES wind begin?” And the class was off and running.
Watch the video below to see teaching using misconceptions in action!