Science and/or fiction? Narrative complexity and science education

Year: 1992

Author: Gough, Noel

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper extends recent critical studies (Gough 1992ab, in press) of the dominant discursive practices of science education and explores further some alternatives among the narrative strategies which may be used to represent science Ñ and especially postmodern science Ñ to learners. The overall purpose of these inquiries and explorations is consistent with a project that David Ray Griffin (1988: 1) has named Ôthe reenchantment of scienceÕ: At the root of modernity and its discontents lies what Max Weber called Ôthe disenchantment of the world.Õ This disenchanted worldview has been both a result and a presupposition of modern science and has almost unanimously been assumed to be a result and a presupposition of science as such. What is distinctive about ÔmodernÕ philosophy, theology, and art is that they revolve around numerous strategies for maintaining moral, religious, and aesthetic sensitivities while accepting the disenchanted worldview of modernity as adequate for science. These strategies have involved either rejecting modern science, ignoring it, supplementing it with talk of human values, or reducing its status to that of mere appearance. The postmodern approach to disenchantment involves a reenchantment of science itself. This paper explores one proposal for reenchanting science education, namely, replacing (or at the very least supplementing) the simple and simplifying discursive practices of conventional science education with the complex and complicating textual strategies that characterise much literary fiction, especially postmodern science fiction.