I came across a wonderful talk on Ted, about how science lessons should be made more understandable. The speaker, Tyler DeWitt, argues that science communication needs to be better targeted to the audience. He talks about the "cult of seriousness" and the "tyranny of precision". Scientific information must be communicated in an appropriately serious way and it must be 100% accurate, even if both these things mean that nobody grasps the basic idea. I fear this maybe true of communication in all academic / professional circles. We communicate in such a way, so as to keep others out.
His main messages are relevant to any act of communication, or education. Know your audience and target your message appropriately! Get the basic message across in an understandable way, then once someone understands the basic principle, you can explain the exceptions and detailed information. He finishes his Ted talk with this: Make me Laugh, make me care, get to the point. How shall I start? "Listen, let me tell you a story"
I then discovered his videos on YouTube - they are genius and I am already feeling better informed, having learnt today about the differences between molecular and ionic compounds. He uses great metaphors and examples, simple but effective graphics and talks with humour and passion. Genius.
Wish I had had a chemistry teacher like him - would certainly have kept up with the subject. (*embarrassing confession* - i took physics at GCSE because I had a mad crush on the physics teacher, who then left and I had two years with a hopeless teacher who made me hate the subject!)