Alternatives for Science Education

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Alternatives for Science Education was produced and published by the Association for Science Education (ASE) in 1979. Its sub-title, A Consultative Document, indicates its aim and status. In addition to being a document of considerable historical interest, it contains arguments of continued relevance.

The working group that produced the document represented a range of views within the full spectrum of interests in the ASE. The all-male members were from secondary schools, local authorities, and a university department of education. It should be noted that it was produced at a time when science in primary schools was not widespread and few primary teachers were members of the ASE. Nevertheless the document included reference to primary science.

The aim of the document was to present options for the place of science in education. It was intended to establish a forward-looking science education policy for the 1980s and beyond. The preface indicates that responses from ASE members at the individual, local, regional and national level would lead in a structured way to the development of a policy statement to which the great majority of the membership could subscribe.

The report has three main sections and a summary of conclusions.

The first section is a historical review that attempts to identify those major strands in the development of UK education which were considered to account for the state of education in the late 1970s. This provides a useful, if brief, account of the development of science education up to 1980.

The second section considers the state of science education existing in the late 1970s, at the time of producing the report. Its main sections deal with the examination system, the science curriculum and the implications for resources. The section on the science curriculum includes a table setting out the features of curriculum developments from the early 1960s to 1979.

The third section offers three possible curriculum models for science education set in terms of three chronological phases, for students aged 5-11 years, 11-16 years and 16-18 years. The options are presented as choices, without advocacy for any particular one. It was hoped the discussion would help to formulate much needed policies for the development of science education.

Structure of the Report
Part One Science Education in Context
Educational Context
Teacher education
Social Context
Part Two The Current Curriculum
Examinations and the Curriculum
The Curriculum in Detail
School-based Developments
Implications and Resources for the Current Science Curriculum
Part Three Curriculum Proposals
The Structure of the Science Curriculum
Science Studies in Phase 1
Science Studies in Phases 2 and 3
Model 1
Model 2
Model 3
Comment and Conclusion
Implications and Recommendations
Notes and References

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