Teaching science: we’re doing it wrong | Danny Doucette | TEDxRiga

The world needs scientists and engineers more than ever, but our approach to raising them is backwards and ineffective. Drawing on his research and experience, high school physics teacher Danny Doucette challenges us to reimagine school science.

As a physics and maths teacher, Danny seeks to understand why science is challenging for students, and works to develop better ways to learn. He believes that scientific thinking empowers everyone to better understand their world.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at


40 thoughts on “Teaching science: we’re doing it wrong | Danny Doucette | TEDxRiga”

  1. I go school in South Africa (I'm not poor or in a poor school, people always think that when I say I'm from South Africa). We don't have Standardized Tests here because in the beginning of a test we get 4 Multichoice questions and the rest is practical. We also learn by doing experiments and that helps a lot. But the tests is soo hard.

  2. I always wondered why the humans destroying the earth?! Now I now the answer.thank you zaya? I swear it is make a lot of sense lol

  3. Very nice presentation. Here in brazil we are only focusing in do tests and pass on an university, it is rare we do some experiment…. this is sad… sometimes i hate Brazil because of that

  4. I taught myself, my teacher's were incompetent…later in life i found out it was because my IQ level was higher than average due to childhood trauma… meh

  5. I swear to God if u see how we learn in " my country " you'd rather throw yourself out of the window .. knowing that I am not in primary school nor in high school , I am in a very decent collage – if not the most decent – at a university ranked 3 in my country .. all we hope just " fascinating demonstrations " and " MCQs " and that would be more than great ???
    N.B. plz don't ask about my country ??

  6. This is all great and such, but it is a little idealistic. This sort of approach is good sometimes, and certainly should be included sometimes, but sometimes there is just too much material to teach in this sort of format.

  7. I like this guys optimism and his ideas, but maybe have what he's describing as a separate class? As 3rd year university physics student I can tell you that those poor kids in his standard physics class are gonna hit a brick wall when they get to their first university physics test and notice that not a single question asks them to conduct an experiment to derive they're own law. I get the message and it's a great, but sadly, universities are focused on if you know the equations and how to use them.

  8. What he teaches is just another paradigm. One cannot see it flaws from within it. Really he doesn't know, there is alot of bs but some things cannot be disregarded or explained with our simple (physics/intellect).
    "Zaya became a normal kid again", this is ignorant because once again you don't know for certain what is true.

    A good book that explains this is the book of not knowing.

  9. I think this is absolutely brilliant.. I think I finally understood eddy currents in the five minutes he talked about it better than the two hours my teacher spent with her presentations trying to help us understand. That speaks a lot about how much we need practical learning in class rooms.

  10. LOVED this. Examinations are the key problem. All my teachers admit that they just need us to memorise stuff: not learn.

  11. here's what it's like in India. here, when you take science, Medical or engineering, you have one single test at the end of high school for college entrances. called the JEE for engineering and AIPMT for medical. it's all about the application of the things you learn. personally, I'm here in junior high school and I realise the fact that in middle school senior or when I was 15, I was SO MUCH into science. I had so much interest in modern physics. but as soon as I hit high school and turned 16, now for me it's about knowing the formula, applying it and passing that test. I feel so bad that I loved science so much and now it's like okay okay (because the inner scientist in me never dies). suicide rates in children here because of the pressure of this exam is super high. we go to school to get attendance, go to private tuition for passing school exams and go to coaching institutes to clear that test. it sucks so much but that's what we gotta do. sike

  12. Stopped listening after he used UFOs to describe aliens. A physics teacher should know what UFO stands for and to not use it incorrectly, especially when giving a presentation.

  13. He is a teacher at my school ( he is amazing and I am like legiamitally dying right now because I am so proud of him) he showed us the mystery box in the beginning of the year and it is haunting me to this day still have no idea what that was. Yes EVERYONE. Wants him to be the next Doctor. No he is not a douche for the bowtie he wears it because he is him and it makes him look all sciencey and dapper so shhhh

  14. I hv always thought that general literacy/knowledge level of public does not keep pace with society change is a huge problem. Considering 99% of the daily/common knowledge we hv now is useless in job, I believe that regular scientific knowledge and thinking can also be incorporated into daily knowledge without making people feeling they are learning useless thing if we are willing to change the education system to make science a mainstream common knowledge starting at very young age.

  15. All those examples of "bored physics students" building courses for a pingpong ball that they then conveniently hit nearly every time could just be kids who figured out this method of learning on their own and decided to apply it to amuse themselves and the internet.

  16. Yep. Same goes for all subjects, teaching to the test fails to motivate students to learn how (and why!) to learn. Metacognition and rhetorical skill is just gone from many public high schools outside of debate clubs, if there is even that. Students are not stupid – it's a part of our diffuse cultural knowledge that butterfly collecting is the old way of doing science. Trivia is not science. There is more to obtaining knowledge than seeking out a bucket of truth a day, and in my experience the worst students in the current system are the ones that have the most easily demonstrated critical thinking ability, because they are quick to understand how much of a pointless endeavor it is to learn the content of a single textbook and never look back. It's a fucking tragedy that we're pushing them away from academia.

    Unfortunately educators have a heavy load of pseudoscience they need to deal with, in the form of "These methods are tested and proven." They're proven to fail. But introduce a new idea, and the hostility surges. "Well what if it's worse?" What if the sky turned purple? What if water was suddenly the consistency of syrup? If educators don't trust science, we can't apply it to education.

  17. This is preschool not high school; Children need practice thinking spontaneously correctly, interpreting truth, insightfully, reading with comprehension, arguing perceptively, (whereas, perspective comes with Tinkertoy® Etc.), not, mulling warmed-over hypotheses… Children need an intelligent audience to discuss their parents' introductory college level sciences….

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