Breadth and balance in the Science Curriculum
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Breadth and balance in the Science Curriculum book
The purpose of this chapter is to encourage you to reflect upon science and the science curriculum and to examine your own attitude towards it. At first glance, this may seem a rather academic activity, given that there is now a statutory national curriculum (though only in England and Wales) and that the previous chapter has presented its outline and its structure. However, there are two good reasons for taking time for further reflection on the nature of the science curriculum. First, as argued earlier, teachers as professionals need to be far more than ‘deliverers’ of a science curriculum. They have an important role to play in shaping and interpreting science and in adapting the science curriculum for the future. It is not set in tablets of stone-that would make neither economic nor educational sense in a rapidly changing society based on science and technology. Secondly, the National Curriculum is laid down as a ‘minimum entitlement’ rather than a straitjacket or a set of immovable boundaries (although for many teachers it may feel like this). To use the metaphor adopted by the Association for Science Education (ASE), the national curriculum is a ‘skeleton’ which needs the flesh of the real world and the ‘life force’ of the teacher to bring it alive. Within its framework, teachers have flexibility in the way they present science, for example, as essentially about processes and methods or, in contrast, as a body of accumulated knowledge. They
We often hear and read about the notion that the science curriculum should be broad and balanced. But just what do the terms breadth and balance mean? How can a curriculum be designed to possess these features? Are they compatible with the sometimes deeply held views and educational background of the teachers who are responsible for breadth and balance? These are the questions addressed in this chapter.