A case for conceptual approaches in general relativity education
Keywords:general relativity education, conceptual understanding, qualitative reasoning, physical intuition, Einsteinian physics
Increasingly, topics of general relativity enter mainstream media and popular culture. In parallel, scientists and educators try to find suitable instructional approaches to teach these topics in schools. A recent opinion piece in this journal argued for the need for more quantitative and formal approaches in GR education at the secondary school level. To provide a complementary perspective, I wish to make a case for the importance of qualitative and conceptual approaches, arguing that students benefit from opportunities to reason qualitatively. In doing so, I draw on my research and historical case studies to illustrate the importance of qualitative reasoning in GR. Discussions about the challenges and opportunities of different instructional approaches are meaningful because they help our community better understand why and how we should teach GR. As such, this opinion piece contributes to our joint efforts to improve the quality of general relativity education at the secondary school level and beyond.