What is science?
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The definition of science is wide and entails much, but generally, science is a body that seeks to organize knowledge systematically and in a way that is testable and that allows the process of prediction. The key and most important factors to consider when talking about science are logic, rational reasoning, and the ability to measure results. This calls for the use of empirical methods of collecting and analyzing data (Gauch, 2003, p. 10). The meaning of the word science has evolved in history, with each historic period bringing different meanings. From the pre-modern era, science would mean a type of knowledge as opposed to the pursuit of particular knowledge. Science has since then evolved from the study to the practice of science to achieve measurable and useful results. The branches of science include natural sciences and social sciences. Natural sciences focus on explaining natural phenomena, including biological life, while social sciences focus on human behavior.
The process of scientific inquiry is formal, systematic, and rooted in common sense. This means that science, as a way of knowing, is a skill, which people learn. Teaching science is crucial as it prepares the individuals to learn science at higher levels, pursue careers in the workforce, and finally, helps them become scientifically literate (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999). As part of the learning process, the students must embrace the value of empirical methods in scientific study and logic reasoning, which are chief in science.
When teaching science, it is important for the teacher to acknowledge that this is a purposeful means to an end but not the end. By this recognition, the teacher should accept more responsibility when the student struggles or fails to learn particular concepts given the level of effort by the student. This requires a transformation of the teacher’s attitude from that of “the work of the teacher is to teach, and that of the student to learn” to that “all students can learn only with more time and effort.”
Another important acknowledgment when teaching science is that the learning process is practical and for a particular purpose. Science is practical and aims at solving problems (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999). The knowledge acquired should reflect the student’s ability to solve problems. This calls for the teacher to be practical in passing this knowledge and not passive. Again the student should also be active in gaining this knowledge and not passive.
Current issues in science education
Access and equity
In many countries, access to science education faces many restrictions. In some of them, especially the third world, the only education available to all is primary education, while in others, there are restrictions to access based on some other factors, for instance, gender. Regardless of the reason, access to science education is an arising issue in science education. Countries are supposed to tailor their policies in a way that makes science education available to all.
Another emerging trend in science education is the bridging of science teaching and learning with the current technology. Teachers should find ways of incorporating the teaching of science with the current technology. This is an important force in capturing student’s interest in studying science as a body of knowledge. Besides the role of technology in learning the learning process, science also relates to technology in a practicable sense. The incorporation of technology in scientific methods of problem-solving is critical.
Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.
Gauch, H.G. (2003). Scientific method in practice. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.