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Wagenschein is most well known for his promotion of open learning techniques. He emphasised the importance of teaching students to understand and not simply learn knowledge for the sake of it. As such he was one of precursors of modern teaching techniques such as constructivism, inquiry-based science, and inquiry learning.
His work is little known of in the English speaking world and has been little translated. Despite this he sets the foundation for modern open learning techniques, which mirrors the work of English speaking science educationists such as John Dewey.
The Wagenschein Effect
Wagenschein discovered that even highly educated people, and even students of physics, could not provide a realistic or simple explanation for even the most basic physical phenomena, despite being well qualified to do so, or being able to do so with the use of complicated equations or difficult to understand language. One example of this being students asked to explain why the moon's phases occurred in the order that they did. Another example being students being unable to explain in simply easy to understand language how to describe the speed at which objects fall. This phenomenon became known as The Wagenschein Effect. The Wagenschein effect is most prominent when people are unable to understand what appears to be basic scientific knowledge, hedged in scientific or overcomplicated language.
Books and works
- Bildung durch Naturwissenschaft (1930)
- Naturwissenschaft und Bildung (1932/33)
- Zur erzieherischen Aufgabe des mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Unterrichts (1933/34)
- Physikalischer Unterricht und Intellektualismus (1935)
- Zusammenhänge der Naturkräfte (1937)
- Natur physikalisch gesehen (1953)
- Die Erde unter den Sternen (1955)
- Zum Begriff des Exemplarischen Lehrens (1956)
- Die Pädagogische Dimension der Physik (1962)
- Ursprüngliches Verstehen und exaktes Denken (2 Bände, 1965/67)
- Verstehen lehren. Genetisch - Sokratisch - Exemplarisch (1968)
- Rettet die Phänomene, mit Hugo Kükelhaus (1975)
- Kinder auf dem Wege zur Physik (1990)
- Naturphänomene sehen und verstehen (1995)