James Williams

Wednesday, December 14 2016 at 8:00PM

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James Williams

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It's that time of the year again, where we have a bit of a party, and this year we also welcome back James Williams to give us another talk.

Pseudoscience like homeopathy is widely known to be nonsense. But did you know that our classrooms are places where some teachers practice pseudoscience without even realising it? In education we call them “edumyths”.

One of the most persistent edumyths is learning styles – the idea that there are a number of styles of learning, such as visual, aural or kinaesthetic – and that certain children respond better if teaching is directed towards their preferred learning style. Another used to be ‘brain gym’ – the idea that rubbing key parts of your body could wake your brain up or drinking water gives you energy.

Lots of other edumyths abound – but why do people believe in nonsense? Why have we rejected Father Christmas but cling on to the idea that we only use 10% of our brains? In this talk we begin to explore what we believe, why we believe and how sometimes even direct evidence isn’t enough not to believe.

James Williams graduated in Geology from the University of London and trained as a science teacher at Chelsea College, Centre for Science and Maths Education, University of London. He taught science in North London (Enfield), South London (Croydon) and Surrey.
In 2006 he filmed a six-part TV history/reality series for Channel 4 called 'That'll teach 'em taking the role of the deputy head and housemaster in the fictional Charles Darwin school teaching 30 teenagers 1950s style.
His research interests currently revolve around teachers and their knowledge and understanding of 'The Nature of Science' and 'The Scientific Method'. In particular, what do trainee teachers understand about these concepts and ideas in science. This leads to work on a better understanding of the 'Working Scientifically' approach in the new National Curriculum an public examinations. Linked to this work he also does research on the teaching of Evolution in science and the issues surrounding Creationism in a school based context. Other research interests involve the publication of the Theory of Evolution by means of Natural selection by Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin.