Opening New Doors in Science Education

By Gros, Francois | UNESCO Courier, April 1996 | Go to article overview

Opening New Doors in Science Education


Gros, Francois, UNESCO Courier


Science teaching must be rethought from primary school to post-graduate level

In the twenty-first century, humanity will have an opportunity to achieve an ambition that has moral as well as technical implications: it will be able to attain an all-encompassing view of planet earth. Modern communication technology, modern means of transport and satellite-based observation are already bringing the various parts of the world closer together, and there are good grounds for believing that, as a result, there will be far fewer remaining pockets of political and cultural isolation.

The planet-wide view thus made possible by scientific and technological progress nonetheless raises a problem of principle, indeed almost a philosophical problem: unless a very lofty purpose is assigned to science, unless the science we produce is more than merely utilitarian, there will be no means of surmounting a major cultural conflict that we have seen developing at the end of this century, one that is in fact much more serious than is generally realized.

Decompartmentalizing science

The benefits of science and technology no longer seem so obvious as they did in the last century. Before the major conflicts of our own times, science was expected to solve most of humankind's individual and general problems. War has demonstrated that science has not succeeded in changing mentalities and that barbarism still lurks beneath the surface of civilization. Current debates over environmental issues and bioethics also reflect a certain "culture gap" between science and society. The ecological movement has not only put science in an awkward position, it has put it on trial. In order to overcome the disenchantment now felt towards it, science needs to be set within a far wider cultural context.

One of the main dangers threatening science teaching comes from overspecialization. Although specialization is undoubtedly a necessary condition for the improved training of engineers and technicians, overspecialization is in danger of alienating science from the general public because it makes communication more difficult and raises a serious problem of social "acceptability". It is already becoming evident, for instance, that research in biology is likely to be held back more by ethical and cultural considerations than by economic ones.

Overspecialization may also lead to a lack of "culture". Scientists must learn to respect and practise other forms of language and communication, while conversely, it would be extremely dangerous to reject science on the pretext of getting back to humanitarian values. Science is part and parcel of culture, and the practice of science should lead naturally on to the idea of international solidarity and tolerance.

Science teaching is at present in a rut and needs to be re-examined. This applies particularly to textbooks. Physics is taught from books on physics, and biology from works on biology, whereas science teaching should be much more cross-disciplinary. Why not refer to the underlying problems of physics when teaching molecular biology or, when teaching biology, to the ethical questions that are soon sure to come up?

The problem needs to be tackled both in general and in specific terms. Due regard must be shown both for the different cultures of different countries and for the universality of science. This is the only way to avoid fragmentation of knowledge, which is harmful in every way. Science education will also have to be integrated with other forms of education - literary, artistic, political or even economic - in order that the citizens of the twenty-first century may see science primarily as an ally in achieving what they want done for the good of their country or of civilization as a whole.

More open, more diverse higher education

After going through a period of crisis, in Europe especially, universities can now aspire to provide both a general culture and a practical training for various occupations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Opening New Doors in Science Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.