Nature of Science: Past, Present, and Future
The construct “nature of science” (NOS) has been advocated as an important goal for students studying science for approximately 100 years (Central Association of Science and Mathematics Teachers, 1907). Most recently, NOS has been advocated as a critical educational outcome by various science education reform documents worldwide (e.g., Australia, Canada, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States). To be blunt, when it comes to NOS, one is hard pressed to find rhetoric arguing against its importance as a prized educational outcome. Still, detractors do exist (Winchester, 1993). The observation that NOS has been a perennial goal of science education, and is now receiving increased emphasis, can be construed to mean that high school graduates, and the general citizenry, do not possess (and never have possessed) adequate views of NOS. The research reviewed later in this chapter provides clear support for such a notion. That said, has anything been lost? Is it really important for students and the general citizenry to understand NOS? What have we not accomplished because our students do not have good understandings of NOS? What can we make of the obsession with NOS?