The place of values in the aims of school science education

Jennifer Mansfield, Michael J. Reiss

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Debates about the aims of school science education are perennial (e.g., Reiss & White, 2014; see also Kidman & Fensham, Chapter “ Intended, Achieved and Unachieved Values of Science Education” this volume), particularly in Western cultures. In this chapter we review some of these arguments about the aims of school science education, and look at what has changed in the last decade since one of us (Michael) considered a similar debate (see Reiss, 2007). We have situated this review of arguments in current global circumstances including rapid technological advances, a continuing demand for workers with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) qualifications and the increasing acknowledgement of the deeply worrying effects that humans have on the Earth’s ecology, and indeed its future. Part of our argument is that decisions about the aims of school science education are inevitably decisions about values in education in general and values in school science education more specifically. This means that for a country, a group of schools, an individual school or a classroom teacher to come to a view about the aims of science education in the classroom is to have made a judgement, implicitly or explicitly, about values.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationValues in Science Education
Subtitle of host publicationThe Shifting Sands
EditorsDeborah Corrigan, Cathy Buntting, Angela Fitzgerald, Alister Jones
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783030421724
ISBN (Print)9783030421717
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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