21 August 2009

Showing what you mean: more from Professor Sir Lawrence Bragg

The previous post featured a comparison between the use of slides and drawing on a board by the late Professor Sir Lawrence Bragg, who continued the Royal Society's Christmas lectures for children that Michael Faraday (left) had started in the nineteenth century. Here's a related gem from Bragg'*:

'To the layman the difference between the description of an experiment and the actual witnessing of it is as great as the difference between looking at a foreign country on the map and visiting it; we grasp its geography in a far more vivid way when we have been to the place.

'One is struck again and again by the immense superiority, as judged by the effect on the audience, of a series of experiments and demonstrations explained by a talk over a lecture illustrated by slides. The Christmas Lectures to young people at the Royal Institution afford a good instance.

'It is surprising how often people in all walks of life own that their interest in science was first aroused by attending one of these courses when they were young, and in recalling their impressions they almost invariably say not 'we were told' but ‘we were shown’ this or that’ (Bragg’s own emphasis).

(*Advice to Lecturers: An anthology taken from the writings of Michael Faraday & Lawrence Bragg, London: The Royal Institution of Great Britain, 1974, ISBN 07201 04467).

1 comment:

Dorothea Stuart said...

Hi Max
I started going to the Royal Institution when I was at school. I particularly remember the lectures when there were good demonstrations. The one with explosions is etched very clearly in my memory. Your post is good reminder that being able to use props and do demonstations well are useful skills.