Philosophy for children and scientific literacy

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A key aim of science education in Northern Ireland is to promote scientific literacy (DE and DEL, 2009), i.e. to promote an understanding of key ideas about the nature and practice of science as well as the central conclusions reached by science (Reiss, 2007) and to ensure that young people are able to express an opinion on social and ethical issues with which they will be confronted (Millar and Osborne, 1998). This necessarily involves developing students’ understanding of some aspects of philosophy of science, particularly epistemology and ethics as they relate to science.
However, research has shown that school science is often presented as a body of ‘proven’ facts (Donnelly, 1999), with less attention paid to how this knowledge was created, its status and characteristics. This ‘final form’ science (Duschl,1990) is compounded by the predominance of authoritative teacher talk dominating in many classrooms (Mortimer and Scott, 2003), with pedagogies that present a dogmatic vision of science that is abstract and irrelevant (UNESCO, 2010). Studies have also found that many science teachers are reluctant to deal with ethical or sensitive issues (CCEA, 2005), and perceive that their role is to ‘teach the facts’ rather than address such issues (Levinson and Turner, 2001). When dealing with issues related to scientific knowledge and scientific ethics, it may be more appropriate to adopt pedagogies associated with the teaching of philosophy.
This paper explores the potential of an adaptation of Philosophy for Children, P4C (Lipman, 2003), to address the teaching of philosophy in science as a necessary component of a science education for scientific literacy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAustrian Center of Philosophy for Children Critical Thinking - Knowledge - Responsibility - Austria, Graz, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Oct 201419 Oct 2014


ConferenceAustrian Center of Philosophy for Children Critical Thinking - Knowledge - Responsibility
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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