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He has published several books, including La construction des sciences: It discusses their place in education in general, and in the social and historic context of science teaching in particular. This article then goes on to analyse the overall aims – economic, political, social and human – of the STS and Dourez movements, describing some of their teaching objectives, for which it proposes an operational translation into a series of capabilities and skills.
It demonstrates the place occupied in these movements by epistemology, the history of science and the multidisciplinary approach. Finally, it lays emphasis on the inevitable ideological dimension involved in any teaching of science.
If it is to be understood, it is important at the outset to briefly consider the history of the links between science and society. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, scientific thinking and the communities that shaped it split into two parts: The two currents have entered educational institutions. The development of science courses in secondary education has drawn inspiration from the approach of the second current. Although the educational function lives, moves and has its being in a human and social universe that is as complex as that of doctors or engineers, the sciences have begun to be taught according to the standards of the specialists.
In any event, the fact that technology – as well as the social side of science – is usually missing from general secondary education courses that are supposed to be fundamental can be regarded as a sociological trait that must be taken into account.
The Foure movement is often held up as a response to the fact that the conventional teaching of science has run out of steam. For some decades now, in the industrialized countries, as elsewhere, voices have been raised gerafd concern at how unsuccessful science teaching has been. The students seem unprepared for using science in ordinary life and, what is worse, seem to have a growing aversion to it.
It is increasingly accepted that the conventional teaching of science is now in crisis, if not facing total failure. Geraed crisis is manifest as a lack of interest in scientific careers, a development that could endanger the scientific and economic development of the industrialized countries.
They consequently want science to assist their growth. The first current follows the tradition whereby science brings understanding which can lead humanity towards a better future. For example, this movement rejects science teaching that has become too theoretical and remote from daily life.
Science classes should, for example, train young people to have more respect for nature and to be able to interact with it. This current places considerable importance on the links between scientific results and ethical or political attitudes.
It is embraced by many teachers who have concerns for ecology or public health; indeed it sometimes produces an amalgam of scientific results and ethical standards that surprises the ethics specialists. Moreover, this awareness is probably not very distant from the concerns of the s, that optimistic period when man went to the moon and when people gdrard generally persuaded that science and technology would shortly eliminate deprivation. The second current is rooted more in an analysis of society with social and economic components.
It makes deliberate use of the literacy metaphor.
This current is that of scientific and technical literacy. From this point of view, science is not regarded as an end in itself, but rather as an intermediate step that has become necessary to life in society. Modern science is no longer seen as producing absolute, universal and unchanging truths, but rather as a particular way of tackling understanding which has become established in the West, has proved there to be highly effective and has imposed itself – or has been imposed – on the rest of the world.
This current, although it attaches great importance to science and technology, primarily envisages action in society. Its appearance is perhaps due in part to the problems of managing major technologies, their accidents, pollution and the continuation of deprivation, all of which have led many people to discard the technocratic optimism which predominated twenty years ago. The aims of this movement most frequently correspond to a number of economic and political, social, and humanist approaches.
The first line of approach involves economic and political objectives. The social line of approach follows the idea that, without a scientific and technological culture, democratic systems are more and more vulnerable to technocracy. For example, how is it possible to formulate a democratic policy with regard to AIDS or drugs – which necessitates public discussion – if the public cannot understand what it is all about?
It then becomes a question of distributing powers throughout society or, at any rate, reaching a situation where the public does not feel too impotent with regard to science and technology and what they involve. The third line of approach is more personalized and cultural. Its aim is to enable every human being to join in our scientific and technical culture, to communicate with other people in it about the world in which we live, to maintain a degree of independence within it as well as experiencing some pleasure at being there.
This involves a number of dimensions. To begin with there is the historical dimension, in order to understand how science and technology emerged in human history and formed part of it. All this suggests a link with the ethical debate, in so far as science offers us a representation of the possibilities of our action.
All this forms part of gerars culture, since science and technology are part of the representation of our history. The general aims of the STS movement having been identified, it is now possible to set out its more precise aims, which can be translated into educational objectives.
Thus one might mention various factors that should enable people to negotiate situations: Objectives such as these can be made manifest by a few standard examples capable of turning them into action: Some scientific and technological knowledge favours the autonomy of individuals. Ferard capable of grasping concrete situations, they can negotiate reasonable and rational decisions when confronted with a series of problematical situations. In this way, for example, an individual may break free from functioning on the basis of set formulae, which implies the requirement of a behaviour pattern or attitude, making him dependent and causing him to lose some of his potential for autonomy.
It is also possible to evaluate the importance of knowledge in terms of the way in which it enables us to communicate with others about our life situations.
This is probably the strength of theorization. Building up and defining a theory is tantamount in fact to giving oneself words, concepts and sharable representational structures that permit us to tell others what we are doing.
Sacraments and passages : celebrating the tensions of modern life / Gerard Fourez – Details – Trove
Finally, possessing an understanding of the world invariably implies know-how and the ability to act. It is the way in which knowledge generates individual and social capabilities which gives meaning to theorization. As pointed out several decades ago, science is intrinsically linked to a form of power, which does not necessarily mean the domination of other people. One might therefore consider.
Once the importance of pursuing the objectives has been accepted, they must then be rendered operational. Different ways of doing this have been adopted, mainly in the English-speaking countries.
Here we propose a series of objectives 19 related to basic capabilities in conjunction with scientific and technical practice. Making good use of specialists: Making proper use of black boxes, i. The objective is to learn to recognize when it is worthwhile opening or not opening a black box, i. Nobody can be regarded as scientifically and technologically literate if they are unable rationally to decide whether to open black boxes or to leave them closed.
The proper use of simple models islands of rationality. The simplicity of a model is not always a weakness, it can even be a strength. Also, the teaching of technologies cannot be restricted to the transmission of simple formulae: Inventing interdisciplinary models or islands of rationality: Thus the insulation of a house will necessitate a representation of the problem involving many precise kinds of knowledge, from physics to law, not forgetting biology, economics, aesthetics, or the experience of users, which is precise even though not socially standardized.
This objective, in order to become operational, perhaps more than others will require acquisition of a theory of the rigour of interdisciplinary work. The proper use of metaphors comparisons: Access to standardized scientific and technological languages and models: In fact, in order to communicate in our society, it is not enough to be able to invent representations of situations. One must also know how to use the models that have become standardized and accepted and which are known as scientific results.
This is why, in order to be scientifically and technically literate, everyone needs to acquire a whole series of concepts, models and theories in the form that they have received from the history of science and the historically constituted scientific disciplines. These would include, for example, mass, weight, evolution, the cell, chemical reactions, electric charge, etc. They occasionally neglect to take account of the fact that these models, knowledge of which is necessary if one is to get ahead in our society, are seen as dogmatic because they are imposed on students as irrelevant abstractions, taken out of their context of invention and use.
But while standardization is too often a source of stagnation, it is also good practice 28 and must be learned. The proper use of translations: STL requires the capability to move a question from one perspective to another, from one theoretical framework to another, from the paradigm of one discipline to another.
Scientific and technological literacy requires one to know how to get a foothold in the network of translations involved in using science and technology. The ability to negotiate, not only with people, but also with objects and standards: In order to negotiate in this way with people, objects or techniques, it is important to know how to represent what is possible, to create a certain theorization of the situation, an island of rationality.
The ability to link knowledge and decisions: People may be regarded as employing STL when they are able to make specific use of their understanding of scientific or technological approaches and results.
Here science has a practical role to play as a representation of the possibilities of human actions. The ability to distinguish between technical, ethical and political discussions: These discussions in no way concern the issues of our existence which, on the contrary, will be involved in the ethical discussions that question the aims of our action and the values involved.
A political discussion marks the search for compromise between groups that do not necessarily share the same aims or values. It is important to know what part scientific knowledge can play in the different types of discussion. In so far as it seeks to highlight the link between science and the social and personal universe, STS education is not easily compatible with just any type of epistemology, notably with those that place little importance on the subject constructing the knowledge.
On the contrary, it goes along very well with constructivist and especially socio-constructivist epistemologies 29 which emphasize that science is a human product, structured by humans for humans and according to their plans. These representations are appropriate in varying degrees to the contexts and projects into which they are introduced.
In this kind of context, the history of science plays a special role. In addition, the historical perspective draws attention to the fact that a notion does not belong to the nature of things but is a human invention intended to permit communication and action in a precise context.
Finally, as soon as an attempt is made to insert scientific practice into the social fabric and its technological components, single-discipline approaches become inadequate. However, although the principle of interdisciplinarity is routinely accepted, its implementation is not trouble-free. Some research and training is probably necessary to ensure that science teaching gives the disciplines and the knowledge standardized by their paradigms the importance they deserve, while rigorously exercising interdisciplinarity.
On the one hand, the paradigms, in the Kuhnian sense, govern the production of disciplinary and standardized knowledge; on the other hand, the projects and their background constitute the main criteria in the construction of project science and interdisciplinary approaches.
In seeking to link science and society, the STS movement became aware of the ideological expressions conveyed by the teaching of science: A fairly conventional viewpoint holds that science teaching is only scientific, with no ideological content.
However, science courses do involve non-neutral images of the world.