Science education

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Science education is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community.


  • The old contrast, often amounting to hostility, between scientific and humane subjects needs to be broken down and replaced by a scientific humanism. At the same time, the teaching of science proper requires to be humanized. The dry and factual presentation requires to be transformed... by emphasizing the living and dramatic character of scientific advance... Here the teaching of the history of science, not isolated as at present, but in close relation to general history teaching, would serve to correct the existing atmosphere of scientific dogmatism. It would show at the same time how secure are the conquests of science in the control they give over natural processes and how insecure and provisional, however necessary, are the rational interpretations, the theories and hypotheses put forward at each stage. Past history by itself is not enough, the latest developments of science should not be excluded because they have not yet passed the test of time. It is absolutely necessary to emphasize the fact that science not only has changed but is continually changing, that it is an activity and not merely a body of facts. Throughout, the social implications of science, the powers that it puts into men’s hands, the uses... should be brought out and made real by a reference to immediate experience of ordinary life. ...[I]t should be possible to introduce the teaching of practical scientific methods by making students find out for themselves new relationships in things that already concern them and not in artificially simplified and unnecessarily abstract experiment.
    • John Desmond Bernal, The Social Function of Science (1939) Ch IX The Training of the Scientist, Science in the Schools, pp. 246-247 (1946 edition).
  • A new science must be pursued historically, the only thing to be done being to study in chronological order the different works which have contributed to the progress... But when such materials have become recast to form a general system, to meet the demand for a more natural logical order, it is because the science is too far advanced for the historical order to be practicable or suitable. ...By the dogmatic method ...must every advanced science be attained, with so much of the historical combined with it as is rendered necessary...
  • A stage of precision is barren without a previous stage of romance: unless there are facts which have already been vaguely apprehended in their broad generality, the previous analysis is an analysis of nothing. It is simply a series of meaningless statements about bare facts, produced artificially and without any further relevance.
    • A. N. Whitehead, "The Rhythm of Education," in The Aims of Education and Other Essays (1957)
  • We'll imagine that the box is made of a material that has no effect on any electric fields; it's of the same breed as the massless rope, the frictionless incline, and the free college education.
    • Young & Freedman, University Physics 11th Edition (2004), Ch. 22: Gauss's Law. p. 837

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