National Standards, Social Commitments, and Scientific Literacy (page 2)
The National Science Education Standards define the level of understanding of science that all students should develop, regardless of background, future aspirations, or interest in science. The standards embody the belief that all students can learn science. These standards encourage all students—including members of populations defined by race, ethnicity, economic status, gender, and physical and intellectual capacity—to study science throughout their school years and to pursue careers in science. By adopting the goal of science for all, the standards will promote the participation of all students in challenging opportunities to learn science.
The Standards forcefully advocate the inclusion of those who traditionally have not received encouragement and opportunities to learn science—women and girls, all racial and ethnic groups, the physically and educationally challenged, and those with limited proficiency in English—as well as those who have traditionally made achievements in science: the gifted and talented students.
Various methods of learning and different sources of motivation are accommodated because the curriculum, teaching, and assessment standards take into account the diversity of the student population, disparate interests, motivation, experience, and ways of understanding science. The standards define criteria for high-quality instructional experiences that engage all students in the full range of science content. These experiences teach the nature and processes of science. In addition to the subject matter, they will reinforce the belief that people of diverse backgrounds can engage and participate in science. They will uphold the premise that all students have a claim on understanding science as a common human heritage.
The National Science Education Standards present an explicit definition of scientific literacy. School science education contributes to the broader goals of education by providing students with a scientific understanding of the natural world through knowledge of the basic concepts of science, scientific modes of inquiry, the nature of the scientific endeavor, and the historical, social, and intellectual contexts within which science is practiced. The ability to apply such scientific knowledge to aspects of one’s personal and civic life is referred to as scientific literacy.
Goals of school science education include the preparation of students who understand the following:
- A limited number of the basic concepts of science and the fundamental principles, laws, and theories that organize the body of scientific knowledge and can apply them
- The modes of reasoning embodied in scientific inquiry and can use them
- The nature of the scientific endeavor and its ways of knowing, laws, and theories
- The history of scientific development, the relationship between science and technology, and the historical, cultural, and social contexts in which this relationship is embedded
To support and develop the broad social goals of education, school science must attend to students’ understanding of scientific knowledge and provide opportunities for them to practice using that knowledge. Therefore, school science programs must provide experiences that:
- Are personally and socially relevant
- Call for a wide range of knowledge, methods, and approaches to analyze personal and societal issues critically
- Encourage students to act in ways that reflect their understanding of the impact of scientific knowledge on their lives, society, and the world
- Encourage students’ appreciation of the scientific endeavor and their excitement and pleasure in its pursuit
- Develop in students an appreciation of the beauty and order of the natural world
Notice that these statements both identify goals and provide recommendations for achieving those goals, while allowing for a diversity in approaches and teaching styles. Eventually, science teachers will transform these general policies into actual curriculum materials and teaching practices.
© ______ 2008, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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