"과학문화교육"

2007-04-25 (Vol 4, No 4)

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국제적 과학교육학술논문 요약과 외국 과학교육 및 국제화

A vision for science education: Responding to the work of Peter Fensham

Evoking a sense of awe about the natural world, a South African student asks, “What enables a single moon to light up the whole world?” (p. 21). International contributors of this edited volume on science education reform might rephrase the question as, What about Peter Fensham’s work inspires a shared vision among diverse science educators?

The work of Peter Fensham, the noted Australian science educator, has influenced educators throughout the world and impacted science education research and reform efforts. A vision for science education: Responding to the work of Peter Fensham brings together science educators from around the globe who are focused on extending and elaborating on the work of Peter Fensham. Contributors represent an international perspective, including: Australia, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, The Netherlands, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States.

People interested in international science reforms that feature democratic and collaborative approaches will find this volume a useful resource for considering the values, reform history, and philosophy that inform current reform efforts. The volume has 15 chapters and is organized into eight sections, including a biography of Peter Fensham, and addressing such issues as science for all; science, technology, and society; gender; theory and practice; politics; reform agendas; and the impact of Peter Fensham’s vision.

Each chapter adds depth to the volume by contributing the story of science reform efforts from a particular country, cultural context and perspective. Key themes addressed throughout the volume are the values that inform reform efforts, dilemmas of envisioning and implementing reforms, importance of collaboration for success, and the new roles required of teachers and students.

The international reforms described are aimed at increasing access to science education, or providing science for all, not just future scientists. Respect for each learner, recognizing learners’ prior experiences, the importance of “student appropriate personal, societal, and technological applications of science” (p. 117), and “science teaching that respects, allows, and even promotes variations in different science learners’ journeys” (p. 122) is central to the reform efforts detailed in the volume. Reform efforts are described within the cultural, social, and political contexts with an emphasis on the many actors (e.g., students, scientists, governments, companies, science educators, educational researchers) that shape the reform debates. The complex two-way interaction between society and science replaces the notion of science as truth, thus science is framed as “not a fixed body of knowledge but an evolving attempt by humans to create a coherent description of the physical universe” (p. 174).

The values at the core of Fensham’s reform efforts raise many dilemmas, and as one contributor writes, the “challenge of creating ‘Science for All’ will be an ongoing struggle” (p. 100). Perhaps the most important dilemma examined in the volume is the complexity of student beliefs and experiences. How can a uniform curriculum and assessment system address the “wide range of beliefs, traditions, socio-economic conditions, physical environments, and lifestyles” (p. 21) of individual students? Other dilemmas considered include: How can a science program prepare both informed citizens and scientists? Should students believe (affective focus) or understand (cognitive focus) what is taught? Is the goal of scientific literacy economic, moral, cultural, or democratic? The volume does not answer these questions, but instead provides multiple perspectives on the dilemmas involved when organizing science education around learner needs and goals, rather than around the structure of the discipline.

The volume evokes a strong commitment to collaborative and partnership reform efforts. The African worldview, “I am through others; because we are, therefore I am” (p. 22) captures the collaborative spirit of Fensham’s work and the nature of this edited volume. Teachers and students are positioned as active agents critical to the success of science education reforms. Reformers describe the importance of collaboration between teachers and students, teachers and academic scientists, developed and developing economies and among science educators. As a result, one gets a sense of Fensham’s profound influence on the volume’s contributors, and also the influence that the contributors have had on Fensham’s work and thinking.

This work will appeal to people interested in value systems that inform science education reform efforts and how reform efforts, focused on democratic and collaborative approaches, play out within different international contexts. It provides multiple perspectives on the complexity of science education reform, rather than specific implementation suggestions. The variety of perspectives illustrate how values and international and local contexts intersect to shape reform efforts. It serves as a tribute to Peter Fensham’s vision for science education that addresses the needs and interests of diverse groups of students, and situates science as one of many lenses for exploring and explaining the world.
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Cross, Roger (Ed.). (2003). . London: RoutledgeFalmer Press
Pp. xxi + 218 $29.95 ISBN 0-415-28872-X
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Reviewed by Amy E. Ryken, who is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington. Her research interests include science education, career academies, and teacher development.


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