chapter  3
18 Pages

Language and Science Learning

ByWilliam S. Carlsen

In a 1998 contribution to the International Handbook of Science Education, Clive Sutton used the writings of Faraday, Boyle, Harvey, and others to compare the language found in historical documents with the ways in which science is represented in contemporary textbooks and classrooms. In Michael Faraday’s letters to scientific contemporaries, Sutton found a voice that was personal and overtly persuasive, eschewing the third-person, “stick to the facts” register with which schoolchildren today are commonly taught to write laboratory reports. Drawing on science studies by Bazerman (1988), Lemke (1990), Medawar (1974), Shapin & Schaffer (1985), and others, Sutton (1998) recommended reduced emphasis in science education on language as a means of transmitting information and greater emphasis on language as an interpretive system of sense-making.