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History of science in education: An investigation into the role and use of historical ideas and material in education, with particular reference to science education in the English secondary school since the nineteenth century.

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posted on 19.11.2015, 09:15 authored by William Joseph Michael. Sherratt
Of the many roles seen in the twentieth century for history of science in education three have been argued most frequently and cogently: historical ideas and material can demonstrate the humanistic and cultural aspects of science, can counter over-specialisation, and can teach about the nature and methods of science. Calls for history of science to be included in the curriculum of the English secondary school have been made chiefly on these bases. They have come usually from science specialists, and the material has been advocated as appropriate mainly for pupils within the top ability range. After providing a background to school events by tracing the establishment of History of Science as an academic discipline in British universities, the factors underlying these calls and some of the responses made during the first half of the twentieth century is examined. The post-World War II fruition of these calls --- the introduction of History of Science as a GCE examination subject, the use of history of science in General Studies courses, and the inclusion of historical ideas and material in the Nuffield science reforms --- is considered, together with the American influences of the period. Particular attention is given to GCE History, of Science and to the historical contents of Nuffield 0 level physics. The former is interpreted as curriculum development resulting from initiatives taken by certain individuals; the latter is seen as a major attempt to include historical material in a school science course. A small scale pilot-study, carried out as the first stage of devising an attitude questionnaire, is described.


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University of Leicester

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