Electrical Circuit
Electricity and Magnetism

Exemplify a helpful understanding

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Think about what your words might be taken to imply

You need to be careful with your choice of words in introducing and talking about these basic electric circuit ideas. It is very easy to suggest incorrect ideas and have your pupils moving down the wrong track!

For example, a recently published teaching scheme states that pupils should learn:

that a cell/battery provides an electric current, which travels round the circuit.

We don't necessarily believe that the writers of this teaching scheme don't understand electric circuits! We do, however, recognise that what is written is ambiguous at best. We do think it's an unhelpful way of writing things.

To some it might suggest that the electric current originates in the battery. You will come across similar statements elsewhere.

Try to avoid them in your own teaching! It would be better to say that:

Teacher: The battery drives the charged particles round the circuit.

Teacher Tip: Always work in such a way that you make it obvious that you think the charged particles are already distributed around the electrical loop. The battery simply makes them drift along.

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