ERIC Number: EJ694191
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Sep
Reference Count: 113
Gazing at the Hand: A Foucaultian View of the Teaching of Manipulative Skills to Introductory Chemistry Students in the United States and the Potential for Transforming Laboratory Instruction
Curriculum Inquiry, v35 n3 p295-338 Sep 2005
Many studies of chemistry have described the rise of the academic chemical laboratory and laboratory skills in the United States as a result of famous men, important discoveries, and international influences. What is lacking is a perspective of the manifestations of the balances of power and knowledge between teacher and student. A Foucaultian analysis of the teaching of manipulative skills to the introductory student in high school and college in the United States during the later half of the 19th and into the 20th century has provided such a perspective. The analysis focuses on the body, specifically students' hands, and how this body has been redescribed in terms of time, space, activity, and their combinations. It is argued in the first part of this article that the teaching of manipulative skills in the chemistry laboratory can be characterized by effects of differential forms of power and knowledge, such as those provided by Foucault's ideas of hierarchical observation, normalization, and the examination. Moreover, it is evident that disciplinary techniques primarily focused on the physical hands of the student have been recast to include a new cognitive-physiological space in which the teaching of manipulative skills currently takes place. In the second part of this article, the author describes his own professional development as a laboratory instructor through a series of reflective statements that are critiqued from a Foucaultian perspective. The personal narratives are presented in order to provide science educators with an alternative way for their students to think about the relationship between one's manipulative skills and the quality of their data. The pedagogical approach is related to the maturation process of the chemist and contextualized in the current paradigm of laboratory practice, inquiry-based science education.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States