Scepticism and trust: Two counterpoint essentials in science education for complex socio-scientific issues

Peter J. Fensham

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    15 Citations (Scopus)


    In this response to Tom G. K. Bryce and Stephen P. Day’s (Cult Stud Sci Educ. doi:10.1007/s11422-013-9500-0, 2013) original article, I share with them their interest in the teaching of climate change in school science, but I widen it to include other contemporary complex socio-scientific issues that also need to be discussed. I use an alternative view of the relationship between science, technology and society, supported by evidence from both science and society, to suggest science-informed citizens as a more realistic outcome image of school science than the authors’ one of mini-scientists. The intellectual independence of students Bryce and Day assume, and intend for school science, is countered with an active intellectual dependence. It is only in relation to emerging and uncertain scientific contexts that students should be taught about scepticism, but they also need to learn when, and why to trust science as an antidote to the expressions of doubting it. Some suggestions for pedagogies that could lead to these new learnings are made. The very recent fifth report of the IPCC answers many of their concerns about climate change.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)649-661
    Number of pages13
    JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014


    • Intellectual dependence
    • Scepticism/doubt
    • Science-informed citizens
    • Socio-scientific issues
    • Trust

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