%D, %d %M %y
Time: %h~:~%m

Home  / GENERAL CHEMISTRY Textbook / H. Poincare

H. Poincare

"A good definition in teaching is what
students understand" 

The failure in the examination in chemistry didn't  allow Dmitry Mendeleyev to enter the St. Petersburg State University! Thankfully he survived this life test and entered the Teacher Training College, and the world science has not lost one of its greatest sons.
"Most of us who teach chemistry want students to understand what we teach them. But many students, perhaps most, do not try to understand. Even if they set out trying to understand, they usually soon conclude that it is too difficult, at least in the time they have available, and they resort, like the others, to learning the material. By learning they mean memorizing names of substances, formulas, definitions of oxidation and reduction, shapes of orbitals, recipes for assigning oxidation numbers and doing pH calculations, etc., etc. "

"Most students do not particularly object to doing this because it is what they did in high school and is what it means to study. Many will object to being expected to understand, as they find it easier to memorize and most of them have little understanding of what it means to understand. Surprising, as it may seem to us, they see chemistry as very abstract, very difficult, and unrelated to real life".

RONALD J. GILLESPIE Canadian physicochemist, 
world's most famous, creative author of textbooks on general chemistry

"General Chemistry has been discussed at countless conferences and symposia, in task forces and committees, and in department meetings; but little change has occurred, and General Chemistry remains much as it was 30 or even 50 years ago. Why? One reason may be that textbooks have not changed.
In 1989 the Division of Chemical Education of the American Society recognized the need to foster the development of alternative chemistry curricular. The Task Force on the General Chemistry Curriculum was created to meet the need. In 1997 an article was published in the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE №7, page 862) by R.Gillespie in which the author offered the idea of limiting the course of General Chemistry by the explanations of six of the greatest essences of chemistry.
Gillespie says:
"It seems to me that discussion has gone on long enough. We will probably never get widespread agreement on how to reform General Chemistry until a truly new textbook is published, which influences enough teachers to change, so that the new way of teaching becomes the accepted way".

Ronald James called to follow the rules:  

1) Forget about the needs of chemistry majors. Very few students in General Chemistry will become chemistry majors and only a small number will take even one more chemistry course.
2) Continually emphasize the relationship between the macroscopic world of observations and the microscopic world of atoms and molecules. This relationship is the unique aspect of chemistry, and understanding it makes chemistry alive and relevant.
3) Cut out unnecessary details and busy work; concentrate on what is needed to understand chemistry. Why start a textbook with details about the names and formulas of substances? This is boring. Show students some real chemistry. Bring in what is essential for naming and writing formulas of substances only when they are being discussed. How many chemists ever bother to balance an equation, particularly the complicated redox equations so common in textbook exercises? A few students will enjoy the challenge, but are they learning chemistry?
4) Show the broad scope of chemistry.
5) Make the textbook shorter, so that the material can be covered at a pace that allows time for understanding.

R. Gillespie offered to limit the general chemistry course by explanations of the six greatest principles of chemistry:

 "I call these fundamental ideas the 'great ideas of chemistry'. Here is my list of the six concepts that form the basis of modern chemistry. I believe every high school and college introductory chemistry course should include these ideas — indeed, the course should be built around them. In what depth each of these is treated depends on the level and aims of the course."
 Chapter 1. INTRODUCTION. Ronald  J. Gillespie's viewpoint