Community leaders' views of the purposes of science in the compulsory years of schooling
Symington, David and Tytler, Russell 2004, Community leaders' views of the purposes of science in the compulsory years of schooling, International journal of science education, vol. 26, no. 11, pp. 1403-1418.
Accepting that scientific literacy is the primary purpose of science in the compulsory years of schooling leads to the question 'What does scientific literacy mean in a particular community?' This paper reports a study designed to provide some insight into that question. Data were gathered through interviews with a sample of community leaders, in the state of Victoria, Australia, about their views of the purposes of school science.
The data reveal that, although most of those interviewed had no formal post-school science education, their life experiences provided them with useful insights into the question raised. The wisdom of such people could make an important contribution during the initial stages of curriculum development in science.
As people successful in their own fields, the study participants were lifelong learners. Consequently, their responses suggest that a primary focus of school science must be to provide students with a framework that will enable them to continue learning beyond schooling. This is not just a matter of knowledge or skills, but of feeling comfortable with science.
The methods used provide a useful example of how views about education can be gathered from thoughtful, non-expert community members. In this instance, they allowed a reconceptualization of the purposes of school science. These community leaders argued for an education for 'science in life' rather than an education about science.
Field of Research
130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
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