Learning science as involving individual and social processes
Pages 9

We now consider what we see as the implications of the distinctions between

common sense and scientific reasoning for the learning of science.We have argued

that learning science is not a matter of simply extending young people’s knowledge

of phenomena – a practice perhaps more appropriately called nature study – nor of

developing and organizing young people’s common-sense reasoning. It requires

more than challenging learners’ prior ideas through discrepant events. Learning

science involves young people entering into a different way of thinking about and

explaining the natural world; becoming socialized to a greater or lesser extent into

the practices of the scientific community with its particular purposes, ways of

seeing and ways of supporting its knowledge claims. Before this can happen,

however, individuals must engage in a process of personal construction and

meaning-making. Characterized in this way, learning science involves both

personal and social processes. On the social plane, the process involves being intro-

duced to the concepts, symbols and conventions of the scientific community.

Entering into this community of discourse is not something that students discover

for themselves any more than they would discover by themselves how to speak

Esperanto. […]