Controversies and Concurrence in Science Education

Controversies and Concurrence in Science Education

Kevin F. Downing (DePaul University, USA) and Jennifer K. Holtz (DePaul University, USA)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-986-1.ch002
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Abstract

The practical application of theory, or praxis, in science education is arguably less straightforward today than it has been in preceding generations. While formal education and learning theories have been promulgated for close to 100 years, the changing disposition and balance of academia, and the consequent dissemination of questionable and unverifiable social theories, have led to a more ambiguous discussion and application of au courant learning theories to science education. Much of what the authors consider the detrimental entanglement in academia of definitions and educational theories about science occurs at the confluence of different professional attitudes and motivation. Scientists are generally complacent in terms of championing and defending their own core philosophy and epistemology, and a scientist’s professional rewards and efforts rarely consist of debunking critics in the so-called other ‘ways of knowing’ (see the Science Wars website and the Sokal Affair for a droll exception at http://members.tripod.com/ScienceWars/). The defense of scientific reasoning is not what scientists focus on by training; thus, this is an area that almost certainly needs more systematic attention and treatment in science curricula. By contrast, science’s detractors in the humanities, social sciences and even education, find professional incentive and marketable topic in assailing the science colossus. Most notably, postmodernism with its socially relativistic and radical constructivist theories, replete with the denial of objective truth, have attempted to undermine science, or as Fishman (1996) noted, are attempting to put science on an “indefinite furlough” (p. 95). Like it or not, the science community is at war with nihilistic ideologies and one of the battle grounds is pedagogy, a deliberation that extends to online science learning environments.

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