‘Now This is What Should have Happened…’: A Clash of Classroom Epistemologies?
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Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK
Publication date: 2008-12-22
EURASIA J. Math., Sci Tech. Ed 2008;4(4):319–326
Current school science curricula attempt to reflect contemporary constructivist- provisionalist related epistemologies as accepted by professional science. It is argued that conversely, the effect of science education is the creation of pupils holding naïve-realist epistemological beliefs, largely inductivist-positivist absolutists who chase an irrefutable ‘right answer’. This outcome has unwelcome consequences: Encouraging positivist mind-sets during school science practical work that trigger confirmation bias and other deviant evidential attitudes. Philosophical inconsistency creating epistemological confusion with a tendency towards positivism that continues into higher education, and perhaps beyond. This forms a significant barrier to science learning and impacts on the quality of scientists within the workforce. Solutions are offered but as things presently stand, significant change is deemed unlikely. Discussion of these issues is timely in the light of the recent introduction into English secondary schools of a teaching scheme that articulates a post-positivist view of the nature of science, in the form of a How Science Works strand.