At Le Loft, we are traditionalists. We are professionals. We like things done properly. But we are also informal here: it is our chief strength. (Well, that and our expertise...!) So how do we go about reconciling the formal with the informal? This introductory page is a brief outline of our approach to science tuition. More details can be found in the links contained in this page. If you like what you read, then please get in touch and we can go through the various options.
The most important factor to note is that we operate on a one-to-one basis (occasionally a one-to-two). This means that our tuition strategies are individually tailored to each student for maximum effectiveness; this is ideal for home-educated students. We are able to approach any syllabus in a flexible and responsive way. When we need to spend an extra couple of weeks on a fundamental principle or core syllabus item, we are free to do so; if we still don't 'get it', we are free to come back to it when we have developed other skills which may well unlock the issue. This freedom ensures that come exam time, a student will be in full knowledge of their areas of strength and, critically, areas where they need to exercise particular care. The benefits of this amount of freedom are self-evident. However, on its own, this approach would lapse into a shapelessness if it lacked some kind of supporting structure. This is where we get formal!
Basically, there are three main activities of science. These are
(i) assimilation of existing scientific knowledge to build theoretical constructs ('models');
(ii) developing and testing hypotheses based on these models with a view to improving them;
(iii) reporting the results of these investigations in peer-reviewed journals.
Reflecting these areas of activity, we have three interlinked modes of science tuition:
(i) acquisition and consolidation of knowledge ('learning') by regular tutorials;
(ii) expanding and testing our knowledge base by practical experimentation;
(iii) for our advanced students, we offer a simulated 'journal club'.
Science is a practical subject. Experimental work is essential. Theory and practice are not interchangeable; they are interlocking. Practice without theory is entertainment at best, confusing certainly, and dangerous at worst. Theory without practice is dull and superficial. However, practical work is also expensive and resource-intensive; cash-strapped schools do not have the resources to do practical work three times a week; some of our students come to us having done none.
Our tuition structures include practical work as a normal part of the science framework. The science workshops are organised such that they can be undertaken at an introductory level and repeated at a higher one; sometimes the products of one workshop serve as the reactants of the next; the workshop can take the form of a 'required practical' and sometimes it is an extension of one. The practical elements underpin and extend the theory; the theory informs the practice; the student learns that what appears clear cut and simple in a classroom is not necessarily so in the laboratory. Students are encouraged to ask: 'how did they do that?'; or better: 'what were their controls?'.
For the student in the exam years, there are two additional core skills: revision and exam technique. There is only one way to revise: properly! Although we can't do that for you, we can show you how, test your revision and your exam technique, fill in the holes, correct errors and eliminate bad habits (this last one alone is worth a grade).