Science education for the future

July 10, 2013
Science education for the future
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In a democratic society, citizens need to be able to weigh the pros and cons when deciding what they believe and how they should vote. In today's knowledge-based society, that sometimes means having to understand technical and scientific issues. But do young people in Europe actually have the scientific literacy needed to participate in decisions that involve science?

Studies show European young people often do not have the knowledge to understand basic scientific questions, while the number of people choosing careers in science is falling. This rather alarming trend represents a clear challenge for Europe and its future in the knowledge economy.

The EU-funded SED , 'Science Education for Diversity' has been working to understand how countries in both Europe (UK and the Netherlands) and partner countries (India, Turkey, Lebanon and Malaysia) are addressing gender and when trying to engage in science education.

Led by the University of Exeter, SED implemented an extensive research programme across all of the partner countries, distributing questionnaires, organising focus groups and carrying out interviews with teachers and pupils.

Points of particular interest were the impact of culture and , as well as understanding the process whereby attitudes towards science are formed between the ages of 10 and 14.

Going into the study, project partners believed that understanding the dynamics at play between culture, gender and science education in the diverse partner countries would provide a basis for developing better approaches to science education, approaches that would appeal to more students.

One of the ideas investigated was whether and to what extent social have made the apparent unity and authority presented by appear irrelevant.

Among the outcomes of the project are two new books from the SED team. Science Education for Diversity is an edited collection by Dr Nasser Mansour and Professor Rupert Wegerif from Exeter University including several articles from SED project members. In addition Professor Rupert Wegerif's book, 'Dialogic: Education for the Internet Age' refers to the findings of the SED project and argues that despite rapid advances in communication technologies, most teaching still relies on a traditional approach, built upon the logic of print, and dependent on the notion that there is a single true representation of reality.

In practice, Professor Wegerif argues, the use of the Internet has disrupted this traditional logic of education by offering an experience of knowledge as participatory and multiple. This new logic or 'dialogic' is more about learning to learn, where individuals are confronted with multiple perspectives and ultimate uncertainty.

SED Project partners say further publications based on their work will be forthcoming for a number of years and the very large dataset established will continue to be a resource for many years to come for researchers who want to improve across Europe and around the globe.

Explore further: Challenging the public's view of gender and science

More information: SED of Exeter

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not rated yet Jul 11, 2013
I am intrigued that this article begins with the need for young people having to decide about voting. This implies that the rest of the article on education should be about social science and how to arrange good government by improved education. Yet the author immediately changed to the subject of teaching general science and forgot about the vital social science one.

This subject is vital because without the world changing into a better place, all the investment going into science and technology (appart from keeping a few lucky scientists happy), will be absorbed by the monopolistic concerns, as it is today. Without our young people seing that the control over the right of access to land and natural resources should be fairly shared (by the better law-making of good government) there will be no sensible tomorrow for those who are needing somewhere to work and express their new-found knowledge that better education has at last allowed them to receive.

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