"The Brain Controls Everything"

Children's Ideas About the Body

Gunnhildur Óskarsdóttir, University of Iceland

A volume in the series: Cognition, Equity & Society: International Perspectives. Editor(s): Bharath Sriraman, University of Montana.

Published 2015

This book explores a study of how and under what circumstances children’s ideas about the body change over the period of two school years, Primary 1 and 2 (6 and 7 years old), in a ‘normal’ classroom setting in an Icelandic primary school. The focus is on children’s ideas about the structure, location and function of bones and other organs and how changes in pupils’ ideas are affected by the curriculum, teaching methods, teaching materials and teacher - pupil and peer interactions. Special attention is given to the differences between quiet children and more open children in respect to these issues.

Result from the study shows that the children were generally more aware of the structures, locations and functions of the various organs than they were of processes and how the organs were interrelated and they were also more aware of the digestive system than other organ systems.

Foreword. Introduction. The Structure of the Study. Review of Previous Research. Theoretical Ideas About Cognition. Children’s Ideas About the Body. Bones and Muscles. Heart, Blood Circulation, and Lungs. Digestion. Brain. Reproduction. Interaction - Learning From Each Other and From the Teacher. Teaching About the Body. Quiet Children. Research Questions. Methodology. Research Design. The Tradition Within Which the Research Is Situated and the Methods Used. The Setting. The Teacher. The Classroom. Classroom Observation. Observation of Teachers’ Meetings. Interviews With the Teacher. Interviews With the Children. Interviews With Parents. Drawings. Diagnostic Tasks. Statistical Analysis. Results. Children’s Ideas About the Body and How Their Ideas Change. Bones/Skeleton and Muscles. The Organs in the Body. Heart and the Blood Circulation and the Lungs. Digestion. Brain. Liver and Kidneys. Reproduction. What Changed and What Did Not Change? Information Obtained From Different Sources. Óli’s Ideas. The Main Teaching Methods Used and Their Effects. Teaching Methods. Short Introduction and Questioning Strategies—Discussion Methods. Practical Work—Investigations. Interactive Activities on the Internet. Drama. Demonstration. Drawings. Teaching Material. Summary. Pupil Involvement and the Interaction in the Classroom. Difference Between the Involvement of Boys and Girls. Being Active Means a Lot More Than Taking Part in the Classroom Discussion or Expressing Ideas. Are the Quiet Children (the Visibly Passive Group) Learning Less Than the Others? The Influence the Children Have on Each Other’s Ideas. Discussion and Conclusions. Children’s Ideas About the Body - Structure, Location, Function, and Processes. Bones and Muscles. Organs. Digestion. Brain. The Main Factors Influencing Changes in Pupils’ Ideas. Teaching Methods: Which is Most Effective? The Influence of the Teaching Material. The Potential Effect of Interaction in the Classroom, Teacher–Pupil, Peer Interaction. The Difference Between the Quiet Children and the More Open Children. The Different Methods Used to Gain Access to Children’s Ideas. Methodological Strengths and Weaknesses. The Contribution of This Research to the Educational Field. Recommendation for Teaching About the Body. Conclusions. Interview Scheme for Interviews on November 20 and 27, 2003. Children’s Ideas About the Body. Children’s Ideas About the Body. Guidelines for Parent Interviews. Children’s Ideas About the Body. Diagnostic Tasks. Children’s Ideas About the Body. References.

"Overall, the book significantly contributes to the development of children’s ideas about the human body and how this topic can be taught and assessed by classroom teachers. Primary school students are curious by nature, which makes the human body an ideal subject for them to learn. Human anatomy is an active subject that allows students to explore their bodies and discover new things. The science education community generally accepts the idea that children have their own understanding of how the body works prior to receiving formal science instruction. These understandings often do not agree with the scientifically accepted view of the world (Driver, Squires, Rushworth, & Wood-Robinson, 1994). Investigating children's inexperienced interpretations of the body will shed some light and provide guidance for prospective and practicing teachers. Once teachers know the way their students think, they can implement instructional techniques and activities to challenge existing student ideas. Teachers can target their students’ misconceptions by planning activities and questions in advance. In general, students' misconceptions are not addressed in the curriculum, allowing them to exist unchallenged." Saoussan Maarouf Columbus State University in Teachers College Record