Science curriculum must focus on ideas, evidence and argument

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Sunday, 13 Aug 2006

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release Sunday 13 August 2006 Science curriculum must focus on ideas, evidence and argument Current practices in science education may be leaving many students poorly educated about science and with an ambivalent or negative attitude towards science according to a visiting expert. Professor Jonathan Osborne of King’s College London argues that science education requires a shift in focus towards ideas, evidence and argument that is more appropriate to the needs of the future citizen and the values of contemporary youth. Professor Osborne is visiting Australia this week to deliver a keynote address to the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) 11th annual Research Conference entitled Boosting science learning: what will it take? In his presentation, Towards a science education for all: The role of ideas, evidence and argument, Professor Osborne argues by presenting science to young students as a body of knowledge that is unequivocal, uncontested and unquestioned, educators may be putting young students off studying science beyond the compulsory years. “There is a growing recognition that we need to educate our students and citizens about how we know, and why we believe in the scientific world view,” Professor Osborne says. “Teaching science needs to accomplish much more than simply detailing what we know.” “Any education in science must attempt to communicate not only what is worth knowing, but also how such knowledge relates to other events, why it is important, and how this particular view of the world came to be. As well as teaching what we believe to be true in science there is a need to address why we believe it to be true.” Students would benefit from a science education that pursues depth rather than breadth, coherence rather than fragmentation, and insight rather than mystification. In such a curriculum, the study of the history of ideas and the evidence on which they are founded must lie at the core. Jonathan Osborne is holds the Chair of Science Education at the Department for Educational and Professional Studies, King’s College London where has been since 1985. He is also currently head of department and President of the US National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST). Professor Osborne will speak at ACER Research Conference 2006 Boosting science learning – what will take? At the Hyatt Hotel Canberra on Monday 14 August at 9.30am. ****************ENDS*************