“Did something happen to you over the summer?”: tensions in intentions for chemistry education
This paper examines teachers' experiences in responding to a new Chemistry curriculum in the province of Manitoba in Canada informed by a ‘tetrahedral’ orientation (Mahaffy, 2005) as a pedagogical framework for the teaching of Chemistry. This tetrahedral orientation endorses macroscopic, microscopic, symbolic and human element teaching and learning experiences and, considering that most Chemistry teaching typically focuses on the symbolic level (Johnstone, 1991), affords a much more diversified Chemistry teacher pedagogy and student-centred learning experience. The teachers self-selected for this study were a part of a larger group of 74 participants in a five-year professional development initiative focusing on fostering the enactment of the intended Chemistry curriculum with its tetrahedral orientation. These teachers were those whose orientations to teaching were statistically significantly different from other participants, as evidenced in the ‘narrowing’ of their teaching practice to, predominantly, a symbolic representation for their Grade 12 classes in contrast to their more diversified practice in Grade 11. Using Aoki's reference to ‘tensionality’ (1986), the study focuses on elucidating the tensions the teachers experienced in working in the space between Chemistry ‘curriculum-as-planned and curriculum-as-lived’. Implications of this study in relation to Chemistry education curriculum policy and practice are discussed.