Science and Character Education

Is science value neutral? Do we want to neuter science to facts and numerical results? The explicit teaching of values in science is rare. Values have been perceived as a nuisance because they prevent inquiry, i.e. values are biases which keep people from being open-minded.

Inquiry (framework 1) Observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, relating, inferring, and applying: These are skills meant to be value-free.

What values do you want your students to have?

Look at the topics in science and choose values which you wish your students to have from studying these:
        Earth Science
        Life Science
        Physical Science

Transform science education to be value laden.

pursuit of truth
problem solving
regard for human significance
protect human life: safety and risks
intellectual honesty
academic honesty
willingness to suspend judgment
scientific inquiry: being fair and just
questioning of all things
demand for verification
respect for logic
critical evaluation of alternatives
imagination (Frameworks)

Purpose of science: TARGET STATEMENT or goal
Science is critical to sustaining, maintaining and improving the quality of life on earth for the future and for enhancing democratic societies and the global economy.

The goal of science education is not only to produce scientists, but also to prepare well rounded, clear thinking, scientifically literate citizens. Helping young people acquire the knowledge, skills and values they will need as productive adults in an increasingly technological society is the major purpose for science instruction. NH Frameworks

Is your image of scientists: those on a selfless quest for objective knowledge that can freely bestow gifts on the world OR those on a selfish quest for money and fame? Is a scientist an emissary of light leading humankind along the road to progress OR a leader in world destruction? A caretaker and steward of the natural world OR a dominant exploiter of nature?

Establish ideals.

"Science is practiced in the context of human culture, and therefore, dynamic interactions occur among science, technology, and society." NH Frameworks

Present day science rarely aims to teach values in any direct or explicit sense, yet values are inescapably transmitted in science lessons.

Negative values: misuse of science
    de-humanizing people
    individualism and competition to the detriment of the global environment

Hidden values:
    cultural biases
    disrespectful interaction between teacher and student
    treatment of student opinions in a disrespectful way
    "right answer" syndrome


    cooperation and teamwork

    respect for life

    respect for the environment

    respect for natural laws; using them for good

Methods of teaching Character Education in Science:


Values in conflict: diversity of perspectives

Other value issues scientists must examine:

    What will the results be used for?
    What will the practical application be?
    What are the implications for society? better living?
    Is there a cause which is being advanced?
    What are the ethics of science?

Study great scientists of all cultures.

Look at issues where there is a moral component:
    flouride in water
    fuel source



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