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A Load of Bumfuzzling Faradiddle: An Exploration of Language and Creativity in Science Education - Dr Simon Rees, Durham University

Thursday 15 June 2023, 4pm - 5.30pm
Hillary Place Coach House Seminar Room

The School of Education Collective for Curriculum, Pedagogy and Policy (CCPP) is hosting this seminar, presented by Dr Simon Rees of Durham University, taking place on 15th June at 4pm – 5.30pm in the Hillary Place Coach House Seminar Room.

Chair: Dr Michael Inglis

Please click here to register for this event.  For any enquiries, please email

Abstract:  Science education has many challenges to address if it is to successfully engage a broader and more diverse range of students.  In this talk, Simon will explore two of these challenges: the language of science and science’s image problem.  The language of science presents specific, unique and complex challenges for students from diverse backgrounds to successfully engage with science.  As Wellington and Osborne1 stated “Language is a major barrier (if not the major barrier) to most pupils in learning science”.  Twenty years on from this recognition, what do we understand about the challenges scientific language presents and, perhaps more importantly, what pedagogical strategies are useful to address this issue?

Popular, potentially negative, stereotypes of scientists tend to focus on boffins, nerds and geeks.  These people are characterised as being very intelligent, obsessive, lacking in sense of humour, socially awkward and definitely not cool!  Science itself is perceived as a hard subject, fact based and lacking in creativity.  Creativity is typically associated with the arts and the phrase “creative arts” is in common parlance.  When we talk about the “creative industries” it is unlikely to conjure up an image of scientists at work in the lab.  How can science education address this image problem and ellucidate the creative nature of science?

In exploring how to address these two challenges, we can hopefully demonstrate that science is not a load of bumfuzzling faradiddle!

Bio:  Simon Rees (FRSC, NTF, SFHEA) is currently Head of Academic Development at Durham University.  In this role, he leads a team delivering a diverse development programme for academic staff and postgraduate research students from across the institution.  Prior to this role, Simon completed a PhD in Biochemistry and worked in labs before moving to teach science in Secondary and Further Education for 10 years.  He then joined Durham University in 2010 to teach chemistry on the Foundation Programme and during this time he completed his second PhD investigating language as barrier to learning in science.  Since then, he has developed interests in teaching for and with creativity in science having published books with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the Institute of Physics.  He was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2020 and has engaged in a wide range of external activity such as Chair of the RSC’s Curriculum and Assessment working group and is a member of the National Academic Board for STEMLearning.