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Interpreting differences: the educational aims of teachers of science and history, and their implications

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This paper draws on an interview-based study of the practice of science and history teachers. It presents data on the stated educational aims of these two groups. The data suggest that there are systematic differences in these stated aims and in related aspects of the teachers' approaches to teaching their subjects. In particular, the historians try to place children's interpretations and intellectual judgements at the centre of their work. In contrast, the scientists place a stronger emphasis on established knowledge, commonly ground relevance in instrumentality, and perceive uncertainty as threatening. These differences are related to wider differences in the intellectual orientations of the two disciplines. The need to redefine the relationship between pupils as individuals and the overwhelming authority of established science configures much recent curriculum development in science education.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 1999

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