Addressing the science in schools crisis: Media images, scientific literacy and students' lives

Year: 2007

Author: Gough, Annette

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Although students entering their first secondary school science classes have little background knowledge in science, they are usually enthusiastic about the subject. After four years of secondary science education very few continue on to study senior level science subjects and most hate the subject. Despite their teachers' best efforts, what has happened to the students' engagement with science in the intervening four years? The need for a scientifically literate citizenry is great as society struggles to come to terms with a myriad of issues that are scientifically related. Yet surveys consistently tell us that students cannot see the relevance of school science to their lives. Various solutions have suggested more qualified science teachers and a national curriculum, but I believe a different approach is needed. This paper moves beyond investigating the problematic relationships between scientific knowledge, the learning of science, and pedagogy and approaches the crisis from the perspective of the students. It discusses students' disengagement with science in junior secondary school science classrooms through an analysis of students' attitudes to science and their identity construction in science classrooms compared with media images of science and scientists as an alternate inquiry path to address the crisis.