Beliefs and Values in Science Education

Beliefs and Values in Science Education

Beliefs and Values in Science Education

Beliefs and Values in Science Education


This book examines ways in which beliefs and values interact with science and science teaching. It looks at some of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural contexts within which science has developed and considers how these factors can affect the choice of scientific theory. Various historical sections provide resource material for showing pupils the role of the history of science in the study of science. Interactions between science and religious belief are also analysed to clarify the nature, strengths and limitations of science as well as its place in the total curriculum.

Publication of this book is particularly timely as contributions to pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development are currently receiving emphasis across the whole curriculum.


It may seem surprising that after three decades of curriculum innovation, and with the increasing provision of a centralised National Curriculum, that it is felt necessary to produce a series of books which encourage teachers and curriculum developers to continue to rethink how science and technology should be taught in schools. But teaching can never be merely the 'delivery' of someone else's 'given' curriculum. It is essentially a personal and professional business in which lively, thinking, enthusiastic teachers continue to analyse their own activities and mediate the curriculum framework to their students. If teachers ever cease to be critical of what they are doing, then their teaching, and their students' learning, will become sterile.

There are still important questions which need to be addressed, questions which remain fundamental but the answers to which may vary according to the social conditions and educational priorities at a particular time.

What is the justification for teaching science and technology in our schools? For educational or vocational reasons? Providing science and technology for all, for future educated citizens, or to provide adequately prepared and motivated students to fulfil the industrial needs of the country? Will the same type of curriculum satisfactorily meet both needs or do we need a differentiated curriculum? In the past it has too readily been assumed that one type of science will meet all needs.

What should be the nature of science and technology in schools? it will need to develop both the methods and the content of the subject, the way a scientist or engineer works and the appropriate knowledge and understanding, but what is the relationship between the two? How does the student's explicit knowledge relate to investigational skill, how important is the student's tacit knowledge? In the past the holistic nature of scientific activity and the importance of affective factors such as commitment and enjoyment have been seriously undervalued in relation to the student's success.

And, of particular concern to this series, what is the relationship between science and technology? In some countries the scientific nature of technology and the technological aspects of science make the subjects a natural continuum. In others the curriculum structures have separated the two, leaving the teachers to develop appropriate links. Underlying this series is the belief that science and technology have an important interdependence and thus many of the books will be appropriate to teachers of both science and technology.

Increasingly, teachers have become aware that science and technology are not objective, impersonal, amoral activities but that they have, underlying them, fundamental issues relating to the very nature of the subjects and the purposes for which they are to be used in society. Teachers and curriculum developers have increasingly sought to see science in this wider, cultural context, to see how scientific ideas have developed and how they have been influenced by the world-view held by society at that time. Alongside such a broadening . . .

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