Scientists as Teachers: Breaking the Stereotype

Muh. Syahrul Padli
4 min readDec 26, 2023

(Muh. Syahrul Padli)

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For many people, the worlds of science and education are like two separate galaxies. Scientists are often seen as geniuses in lab coats, grappling with formulas and experiments, while teachers, on the other hand, are seen as noble beings who work with students. These two perspectives have given rise to an undeniable stereotype: science graduates are not good at teaching, and education graduates only excel in pedagogical skills!

This stigma is deeply rooted. The image of a teacher is associated with a humanistic approach, being sensitive to children’s emotions and dynamics in the class, while science is identified with logic and data, rigid and cold facts. However, this assumption ignores the great potential that lies within scientists who wanna be the science teachers.

Let’s debunk this myth one by one. The reasoning and problem-solving skills trained in scientific studies can be translated into effective teaching strategies. They can simplify complex concepts into easier to understand, build inter-disciplinary connections, and encourage students to think critically and creatively.

When students learn to think for themselves and maintain a sense of wonder about the world, the teacher’s role shifts to simply guiding their exploration. This ability to foster independent thought thrives best under the guidance of those who are skilled in asking questions, unafraid to challenge conventions, and not beholden to blind obedience. Those who are science graduates are the most qualified to fill this gap.

I don’t mean to say that education graduates couldn’t do it. I’m saying that the mindset and character of pure science graduates might be an alternative to the current education system, which is very administrative and focuses more on teaching methods than on the content of knowledge.

However, they (pure science graduates) may be lacking in the theoretical foundation of child development stages in psychology of the students. They also do not yet know the learning steps or syntax of various learning models such as Project Based Learning and modern models of learning application in the class.

It is very rare for them to know what learning approaches are like Teaching at The Right Level (TaRL) or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (T-PACK). It is not even necessary to ask if they know the Understanding by Design approach in formulating assessments (formative assessments and sumative assessments).

This mindset of free exploration needs to be shown to students. Science is the subject that allows for the most training in the mindset of critical thinking and deep thinking. If the teacher only focuses on technical matters such as learning methods, then the essence of liberating education as formulated by Ki Hajar Dewantara (Indonesian education figure) will be impossible to achieve.

Even so, let’s just imagine for a moment. Imagine a physics teacher who invites his students to build a mini rocket, not just memorize the formula for gravity or solve problems by processing physics equations. Or a biology teacher who guides students to research the river ecosystem, not just draw a diagram of the digestive system. Scientists who choose to be teachers can transform a classroom into a laboratory, an exploration garden, and an exciting discussion arena.

Education graduates may know exactly what Discovery Learning in phylosophical level is by giving students the freedom to find out for themselves what is behind a natural phenomenon. However, they may not have the “soul” and passion as scientists who are driven by curiosity and wonder.

However, there are still challenges. Scientists who enter the world of education may need to adapt harder than berfore. The scientific language they usually use needs to be translated into a more communicative and relevant language for students. Pedagogical skills and classroom management also need to be trained more.

The key to success lies in collaboration and mutual learning. Science teachers don’t need to go it alone. Support from other teachers, ongoing pedagogical training, and collaboration with scientists in their field will enrich their teaching methods. This inter-disciplinary linkage will create a more inclusive and dynamic educational ecosystem.

Let’s stop the binary mapping between the worlds of science and education! Every individual, regardless of their educational background, has the potential to be a great teacher. Scientists who choose to be teachers, with their deep scientific insights and burning teaching spirit, are a breath of fresh air for the world of education.

They are not just educators, but also bridges that connect the logic of science with the wonder of learning, lighting the way for the younger generation to achieve a brighter future.

So once again, let’s let go of the stereotype and open ourselves up to science graduates who choose the path of teaching. Let them contribute, create, and light the lantern of education with a different approach. Because in the end, the success of education is not determined by the major they came from, but by dedication, creativity, and a never-ending spirit of learning.

Takalar, December 26, 2023

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Muh. Syahrul Padli

A Science Teacher, Head of Penghayat Sumur Community and Digital-Creative worker. co-Founder YT Bawah Pohon Science (an alternative education platform).