A very interesting article from The Independent about teaching physics in UK's high schools, especially at the A-level. It describe how, if you're a physics teacher, you are lumped into a more general specialization called "Science". Thus, you might be asked to also teach a biology and chemistry (but not mathematics) as a second subject, something many physics specialists may have very little interest (or knowledge) in.
They are trying to address this by initiating a program where a physics teacher can also specialize in mathematics and teach mathematics. This make a lot more sense, because a physics teacher should have quite a bit of mathematics skill and knowledge to be able to teach that subject at the A-level. Certainly, the physics specialist would not be so adverse to teaching mathematics, something more familiar to him or her than chemistry or biology.The shortage of specialists may partly be because they’re forced to generalise. Prospective physics teachers also have to learn how to teach one of the other disciplines that come under the catch-all umbrella of “science”.It was with laudable aims, including increasing uptake at A-level, that this one subject was formed out of three separate areas more than 20 years ago – but it had this unintended consequence, too. “Both schools and teacher-trainers were thinking in terms of a subject called ‘science’,” explains the Institute of Physics’ director of education and science, Peter Main. “So if you wanted to teach physics, you were a science teacher.”It can lead to subjects being taught by, essentially, the wrong teacher even where there is a specialist available. “There is this paradoxical situation where in some schools you’ve got physics specialists teaching biology, and in the same school you’ll have biology specialists teaching physics,” adds the institute’s head of pre-19 education Charles Tracy, a former physics teacher. “It’s often just slackness in timetabling, where it’s easier to say there’s a subject called ‘science’ and it doesn’t matter who teaches it, rather than trying to allocate specialists to teach their topics.”
It would be interesting to see if this is the same situation with teaching in US high schools. How many physics teachers have to teach other science subjects, just because he/she has been tagged with a "science teacher" label? Are you a science teacher having to teach a science topic that you did not specialize in?