Behind the scenes of Education in Chemistry 50 years ago ... and a vision of the future

As this is my final visit to the EiC archive, I thought I’d take a closer look at the beginning and end of volume 1 with the editorials from issue one and issue four.

EiC opens its very first issue with an editorial titled Scientists and Teachers. The editor, Dr F W Gibbs begins his article, ‘This journal has been launched with the avowed aim of improving the teaching and learning of chemistry at all levels.’ The core of our mission remains the same today as 50 years ago, although we now have the benefit of technology to help facilitate innovative teaching and sharing. As EiC has developed over the years I am confident that Dr Gibbs would be pleased to see that we continue to share and deliver his vision. The overall quality and direction of this publication continues to be guaranteed by members of its Editorial Board – members of the chemistry teaching profession. 

Spotlight on volume one

The final editorial of volume one is written by Dr A D Welsh, a member of the Advisory Panel at the time, titled ‘Up-to-Dateness’. Dr Welsh questions the principles that should guide what should be included in and removed from a ‘modern’ syllabus. A question that still seems to be as fresh today as it was then, with current discussions over examination content still very much high on the agenda today.

Supporting this topic, a letter from C F Sellers, a grammar school teacher from Lancashire, was printed in this issue, in response to changes in chemistry syllabuses at the time. For me, the author raises an important issue, '… one of our important aims is to teach chemists to think.’. The author bemoans the fact that syllabuses are geared to university demands with little thought given to those who do not continue in education post-16. He suggests starting with the needs of the 16 year old and basing a syllabus on their requirements. He calls for a heuristic method for teaching a scientific approach to problems, rather than learning a lot of out of date facts.

EiC archive online

The complete EiC archive will be available soon, as searchable pdfs.